Religion Magazine

22 Dead A Day

By Ldsapologetics
So I have been having a really hard time with the new policy change. I have many gay friends, family, and children that are affected by it. I have a hard time with it and I have a hard time supporting those who support it.
So I haven't been writing much. I really just don't feel like writing. My inspiration has been deflated. 
And I don't feel like writing tonight. But I have to. I have to because what I have to say might make a difference even if only to one other person.
I served in the Army about ten years ago. John who I served with in Hawaii died today. And it looks like suicide.
I attempted suicide myself in 2002 when I was serving with him. He didn't reach out to any of his closest friends so I'm not sure why I have the nagging feeling I should have reached out to him when I hadn't heard from him in years. I'm not sure why I keep thinking he would have talked to me.
He was in the special forces so he didn't use social media. So I had no way of finding him on Facebook. 
I have only gotten in contact with a handful of the guys I served with so I have no way of knowing if John is the only one of the 22 veterans and service members who commit suicide every single day. Day after day these people add up to a body count higher than that of those killed in action. Suicide is a bigger killer than ISIS and Al Qaeda combined.
The pastor at my local CofC church served in the Army and as a chaplain in the Navy. We have been talking about setting up a veterans group for a few weeks now. John's death, whether suicide or not, has made me realize that there are vets out there that we could help that may not be with us much longer. 
They may not be able to wait.
John wasn't doing well after his last deployment. I can't understand war like John did which may have been a big part of what drove him to that place of wanting to die but I can't relate to being in that state of mind. It's a dark place I wouldn't wish on anyone.
The night I attempted suicide I was drinking with friends I served with in the barracks and at a bar in Waikiki. I put up a good front. Everyone thought I was fine. I wouldn't let them think otherwise.
Because for one, showing pain is a sign of weakness. And I didn't want to be labeled as I undeployable or sent home. I was struggling and I couldn't really reach out for help in a safe or effective way.
Once I decided to kill myself I refused to call anyone else. I didn't want to be talked out of it whereas before I didn't reach out because I didn't think anyone would understand.
After John's death I understand better about how the guys I served with reacted to my attempt. They were mad I didn't talk to them. They had my back and I obviously didn't trust them enough to reach out and speak up. 
Sharing your successes is easy, sharing your failures is hard. Sharing your happiness is easier than sharing your pain. At least it has been for me. 
I'm not sure what John's reasons were for not reaching out. But I wish he had.
I don't think it was on John's case a matter of him being weak. I think it was likely a matter of him being strong for too long. Just stomaching the horrors of war, the loss of friends, and everything else that the average soldier sees much less what he saw in the special forces.
The only silver lining I've seen is that I've reconnected to several of the guys in my platoon over Facebook. It's been bitter sweet catching up with them. There's a funeral soon and I'm not sure I could go. I'm not sure I was close enough to him to warrant me going. But then I do want to be close to the rest of the guys I served with. And being there for them is all I can do now. And maybe showing support to John's family.
So I'm starting a support group for vets because I want to be there for the next guy like I could've been there for John.
If you need to reach out to anyone please do, reach out to me or someone but reach out. Don't hold it in until you implode.
If you or anyone you know in Salt Lake City is interested in joining a support group for vets let me know either on Facebook or in the comments section and I will give you the details. We're still looking for a place to hold the meetings but we should have things up in running in the next few weeks of not sooner.
22 Dead A Day

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