22 Push-Ups Won’t Quell The Siege of Veteran Suicide: We Are All Aware of the Epidemic

Today marks the end of Suicide Awareness month and I have to be honest: I’m more dismayed than ever about how we can collectively curb stomp this epidemic. While Covid has taken the lives of over 207k Americans, the isolation has also resulted in- or contributed to- an increase of 20 percent year-over-year of veteran suicides.

While I dont have the answers, I know that push-ups won’t help. The intention is fantastic but the impact is minimal. Smarter people than me are looking at the data. In some cases, the data is alarming. 80 percent of veterans take their lives by method of guns and usually handguns. The tool is certainly not responsible for the usage of the carpenter but when a tool contributes to mistakes, at least inspect the blade.

Guns are an undetachable part of military and veteran culture. In no way, shape, or form do I believe that guns are the boggeyman causing all of our woes. I do believe, however, our culture should establish methods, means, and the emotional and social courage to confront with compassion our brothers and sisters in arms when they are struggling. That struggle can be macro or micro, either way, we should evolve to meet the threat wreaking havoc at home. 

Questions we can and should ask: are you doing ok? I’ve noticed some things seem off, would you like to talk? Do you have a gun in the house? You seem to be drinking more than usual, is everything ok?

Those questions are hard especially when confronting hardened warriors but, you are used to hard things. We can do this. 

On this episode of ZBT I said something I wholeheartedly mean: my respect level for a friend/ fellow service member or veteran would increase ten fold if they said to me, “hey chaps. I’m feeling depressed. Would you mind keeping my weapon for a few weeks while I get things sorted.” I would respect this because 1. They still call it a weapon in true military fashion. 2. It would be a HARD thing to do. 

Lastly, I get messages all the time about how to approach depression and post traumatic stress symptoms with veterans. Here’s my suggestion: I equate mental health services with the dentist. It is absolutely foolish to wait until you need an extraction or root canal before setting up a dentist appointment. If you start noticing a little grit on your teeth, go get a cleaning. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed social workers are the dentist of your emotional state. Get a cleaning. Get a filling. Don’t wait until you need your teeth pulled. That’s real wisdom.

Listen to the full show here.