We are 22

For those that follow me, there are some things that I am very open about. One would be the budding ability to be open about a plethora of subjects, ranging from politics, nerd culture, to mental health. That being said, let’s talk a minute about nerd culture before diving into the meat of what I wanted to write about today.

I recently remodeled my gym and living room areas to be more centric in what I was going for with these two rooms. For my gym, I wanted a no-distraction, result driven environment for both myself and the friends that I have that use my workout room while I travel week to week in exchange for upkeeping my home and taking care of things while I’m gone. For my living room, I wanted to create a nerd getaway that the likes of Will Wheaton would be envious of. I feel like I succeeded in both of those endeavors.

Without going too far into those (that’ll be in the future), I’ll dive into the meat of this one. The current statistic provided by the LA Times is that 29.5 per 100,000 veterans commit suicide every year. The actual statistic is 22 per year. The reason for the disparity between these numbers is context for where each is coming from, though. They are both correct.

29.5 per 100,000 comes from our current world environment. That envelopes only 2009 to present day. The 22 deaths per year equates for all veterans for recordable history (which only dates to 1974, btw… and doesn’t actually account for much when you look at the larger statistics involved with this). The largest mystery behind these numbers for veterans from 2009 to present day is that the suicide rate for those that never served in a combat environment are 16 percent more than those that served in combat.

I guess at this point, there will be the question… why the hell would a Navy idiot post about suicide and depression like he knows anything at all about these topics? Valid question, and not one without understandable criticism. When I was in high school in Minnesota, I knew a guy that was a genius. I’m not saying that I THOUGHT he was a genius… he scored a 99 on his ASVAB with near perfect SAT and ACT testings. He could literally write his future to anything in life that he wanted, but he ended up joining the Air Force. Him and I lost contact with each other, but he ended up getting a DUI while serving. Due to his preconceived beliefs about the situation, he ended up ending his life in his barracks. I wish I would have kept contact with him over that time period after finding out about his death in hopes of being able to shape the outcome, but the reality is that he likely had been struggling for a long time and finally succumbed to his demons the only way that he knew how to at that moment. I’ve known others in my time while serving that chose the same route that he did, and I haven’t been the poster child of mental health myself as a result of my own mind and past consistently reminding me of where I’ve been and what I don’t deserve.

Veterans make up a staggering statistic of mental instabilities. We have a suicide rate that is over 50 percent higher than the rest of the nation, and maybe it’s time that we contemplate why and how this is happening. It could be that those that do end up taking their lives have given everything and have not received back what they have put into their careers. It could be a battle of demand of the job and the drain on their families and social lives outside. It could even be that we are raising children differently that cannot cope with the demands of a modern military fighting force (though that would negate the Vietnam and Gulf War veterans that fall victim to this statistic). I would always be open to conversation on this topic, but I encourage anyone doing so to do so respectfully. My friends that are feeling like they would be a part of this statistic, my phone is ALWAYS on. In the event that I do not answer, PLEASE call someone else, and someone after that until someone picks up. You are never alone and your life is worth living, regardless of where you have been and what you have done.


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