By Debbie Gregory.
#22KILL is part of a social media campaign, launched by non-profit 22KILL, to bring attention to veteran suicides.
The #22 KILL pushup challenge, much like the ALS bucket challenge before it, started slowly. But in recent weeks, after several other veterans groups started promoting it, the challenge of doing 22 pushups for 22 days has exploded on the internet.
Marine veteran Jimmy Mac, the program manager for 22Kill, said, “We’d been using the hashtag since 2013 to help raise awareness, but we’re not even sure who actually started the pushup challenge. All we know is that it was sometime late last year.” Mac added, “I wish we knew who that first person was because I’d like to buy them dinner and give them a big hug.”
The goal is to reach 22 million pushups. The charity is also organizing a Battle Buddies program.
Mac has a unique perspective, having attempted suicide in 2002 after a sudden onset of epilepsy forced him out of the Marine Corps.
“I should have bled out,” he says. “I’m not super religious, but I felt like there was some higher purpose going on,” he says. “Life is worth living. We just have to get the word out.”
In an odd twist of fate, Mac’s wound required 22 stitches.
One of the biggest challenges veterans face is finding a sense of purpose after service. #22KILL directly supports veteran empowerment programs that help veterans maximize their talents and understand their value outside of the military. #22KILL also continually provides support for other veteran organizations, treatment centers, and community events and projects.
A 2012 study suggested that an average of 22 veterans kill themselves every day. While some argue that it’s lower, and others argue it’s actually much higher, the one thing that everyone can agree upon is that any number is too high.