Coming Together to Understand Suicide Prevention
One of the most heartwarming things that you can hear about is when good people come together and dedicate time and effort to helping others with no thought of reward. Well, that’s what happened in Salt Lake City about six weeks ago when Special Forces veteran Johnny Primo discovered a suicide note on Instagram from a veteran that lived nearby. CBS News published a short story on their website about this event. According to CBS News, the note on Instagram read, “Very few people know the truth…I want this in everyone’s memory.”
Primo was immediately motivated to try to help this veteran and prevent him from taking his life. He tracked down the address of the veteran and tried to get there in time to stop the veteran from taking his life. Unfortunately, that night, Primo was too late. Primo said the following: “I was 45 minutes too late from him taking his own life…Immediately it was a gut wrenching feeling, knowing that there was a chance that if he had my phone number he wouldn’t have killed himself.” This experience was very impactful for Primo, who had a strong desire to help his fellow veterans fight depression and the urge to commit suicide. That very night, Primo called his friend Casey Gray, who is also a veteran, and they hatched a plan.
The same night as Primo tried to help that first veteran, Primo and Gray launched an Instagram page with a message “pleading with veterans who are having suicidal thoughts to call them, day or night.” The name of the page is “22 Too Many”, which is a reference to the number of veterans who commit suicide every day. The page began having an effect almost immediately. Primo reports that within three hours they had saved a veteran who was on the verge of suicide. Within the first 24 hours, they saved 5 people, all of whom were ready to kill themselves. Gray himself served in Iraq and lost friends in combat. He was also severely injured in a helicopter crash. He has found that his experiences help him build relationships with the veterans that call in for help.
One of the most common problems that Primo and Gray find is that the veterans feel secluded and that no one understands the issues they’re dealing with. Over 180 veterans are offering a lifeline on the 22 Too Many pages and over 400 veterans who were contemplating suicide have been helped. 22 Too Many has also partnered with a network of psychologists who jump in to assist when professional help is needed. One of these psychologists is Dr. Carrie Elk.
“Veterans take care of veterans in the community and then they call me if they need mental health help…It’s a team effort and both are needed.” Dr. Elk says about the process.
A website and a smartphone app are currently in development which will give veterans in need of help even more resources to help them get out of a dark place. Primo and Gray are in this for the long haul and are willing to work to save veterans lives. Primo has one main message to other veterans: “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.”
Volunteers coming together for a cause can be one of the most powerful ways of getting something done. No information on charitable contributions was available, but you can find more information and get involved with what Primo and Gray are doing by visiting their Instagram page 22 Too Many. There are many, many veterans that need help and are looking for a reason to keep on living. They feel alone and misunderstood, and their lives may be falling apart due to the lingering effects of serving in a combat zone. They may be out of work, and they may be dealing with relationship troubles. If you feel that you can provide help to these veterans, start by following 22 Too Many and adding your information so that veterans in your area can reach out to you.