EDITOR’S NOTE: NICK BLACK, COO OF STOP SOLDIER SUICIDE, PRESENTS THIS FIRST IN A SERIES OF BLOGS FROM STOP SOLDIER SUICIDE CORE TEAM MEMBERS DURING SUICIDE PREVENTION MONTH.
In 2010 I was deployed for the second time to Afghanistan. I remember the exact moment when I decided enough was enough. It was winter, and I returned back to our combat outpost after a 48-hour mission at which several US soldiers had been killed. I followed my usual post-battle routine: checked to make sure all the guys were ok and understood the priorities of work and then went to the operations center to check any missed messages. Sitting in my inbox was an e-mail from a good friend. The e-mail stated that in 2010 the US military lost more service members to suicide than to combat.
WE WERE LOSING MORE WARRIORS TO THEIR OWN HAND THAN TO THE ENEMY?!
I wasn’t sad. I was angry as hell.
The friend who sent me the message and a couple other military buddies and I started Stop Soldier Suicide in 2010. Our mission and name are aligned. Our goal is to end soldier and service member suicide. People ask me, “Why is suicide such an epidemic with service members and veterans?” My answer, “I have no idea.” I’m sure I’m three or four degrees shy of being able to give an educated answer that would stand up in a professional psychiatric journal. What I do know is that service members and veterans suffer from complex issues. Issues that have been forged through battle and the trauma of trying to return to society as a “normal” civilian.
What I do know is there isn’t a magic solution.
Stop Soldier Suicide is an organization built by veterans for veterans. We don’t have all the answers, but WE CARE. If you’re asking yourself, “What can I do to help?,” the answer is simple… CARE. Get involved with ONE veteran’s life.Communities send their men and women to war, it’s now time to welcome them back home. The more people that care, the bigger and stronger the support network will be. Join the effort. One suicide is too many.