By Debbie Gregory.
When Special Forces veteran Johnny Primo logged on to his Instagram account and saw a suicide note from a veteran who lived just a few miles away, he was desperate to help.
The note, which read “Very few people know the truth … I want this in everyone’s memory,” was no idle threat. Primo found the vet’s address and rushed over to avert a tragedy. But he was too late. By just 45 minutes.
Primo called friend and fellow veteran Casey Gray, and that night, they launched a suicide prevention page on Instagram. They posted a message, along with their phone numbers, that they would be available to talk to, day or night, for any veteran having suicidal thoughts.
The profile, called “22 too many,” is named after the reported number of veterans suicides committed every day. ”
Within the first three hours we saved one person,” said Primo. “Within the first 24 hours we saved five people, people who were on the verge of suicide.”
There are now about 180 veterans who have contributed their names and contact information as a resource. They’ve already helped more than 400 veterans who were contemplating suicide. The profile features photos of inspirational quotes aimed at veterans on the brink of hurting themselves.
“Veterans take care of veterans in the community and then they call me if they need mental health help,” explained Dr. Carrie Elk, one of the professional psychologists who work with 22 too many. “It’s a team effort, and both are needed.”
Primo and Gray are working on a smartphone app which will give vets more resources when they find themselves in need. They’re in this for the long haul.
Primo said that he wanted to send a message to any vet, anywhere, struggling with suicidal thoughts: “You’re courageous enough to do what you did in the military, just pick up a phone and call. That’s all you have to do.”
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Using Social Media to Save Lives: Military Connection: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory