Doing 22 pushups may be the wrong way to help veterans. People are ignoring the 81 suicides a day of Americans who are not veterans. Many of those patriotically doing 22 pushups mistakenly believe that the 22 suicides occur because the victims are veterans. Then people demand special veteran-related solutions. That is going down the wrong path and does not fix the problem. Suicide is an American-wide problem, not limited to veterans.
Many of those 22 who commit suicide are older people who left the Armed Forces decades ago, and never served in any war. They killed themselves not because of what happened in the service, but because of the same stresses faced by non-veterans. Mental illness, drug dependency, poverty and disease are taking their toll on veterans and non-veterans alike. Being a veteran does not protect someone from the ravages of mental illness or the fall into deep depression that leads to taking one’s own life.
The best way to lower veteran suicides is to work on programs to lower All suicides. America needs more drug treatment centers, suicide hotlines, and mental health centers. We need to remove the way Americans are stigmatized if they ever admit to having a mental illness, or needing psychological help.
The one thing the 22 Pushup Challenge has done is to open up a discussion of suicide in America.
Like most people when we heard the 22 a day statistic we thought it could not possibly be that high. When we looked into it, we found that the situation is much worse. In total, about 38,000 Americans per year kill themselves. That comes to 103 per day.
Now that the 22 Pushup Challenge has gotten everyone’s attention, let’s fix the problem.