Society

#22PushupChallenge raises awareness of epidemic of veterans’ suicides

Can you drop for 22? Help the campaign reach 22 million pushups.

Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge back in 2014? It spread like wildfire on social media and even bishops took up the challenge. Recently another cause has surfaced and celebrities are at it again helping to promote another issue that needs to be addressed in the #22PushupChallenge.

What is it all about?

According to CNN, “The #22PushupChallenge was started by the veteran empowerment group Honor Courage Commitment. The group’s 22KILL movement works to build a community of support for veterans and raise awareness for mental health challenges they face. The #22PushupChallenge is one way to put a little sweat behind the always-nebulous motive of ‘awareness.’ The ultimate goal of the project is to reach 22 million pushups, and the group uses people’s tags to keep a live tally.”

The veteran group started the “#22KILL movement in 2013 after learning about the staggering statistic that an average of 22 veterans are killed by suicide every day. HCC committed to researching and understanding the genesis of this epidemic, and educating the general public on the issue. #22KILL was a platform to raise awareness not just towards veteran suicide, but also to the mental health issues that can lead to suicide. These issues stem primarily from conditions such as PTS and TBI, and struggles of transitioning out of the military.”

The statistic of 22 veterans killed a day by suicide is based on data from a Department of Veteran Affairs’ 2012 Suicide Data Report, where 21 states were surveyed, and it concluded, “If this prevalence estimate is assumed to be constant across all U.S. states, an estimated 22 Veterans will have died from suicide each day in the calendar year 2010.”

The goal of this social media campaign is to increase awareness about the issue and raise money for programs that help veterans transition out of active duty. Honor Courage Commitment’s goal is to “ensure that veterans are provided with the tools and knowledge to create an actionable plan upon leaving the service. This way veterans are less likely to fall into what we call a ‘downward spiral’ – which can include loss of identity and self-worth, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse.”

Unfortunately, suicides in general are on the rise especially in America, as John Burger covered in a previous article on Aleteia. “Suicides in the United States have shot up 24 percent in 15 years, the Centers for Disease Control says in an April report. The rate is now 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.”

It is great to see the support of many celebrities who by their status are raising greater awareness of the epidemic. For example, actors Dwayne Johnson, John Krasinski, Chris Pratt, and Chris Evans have taken the challenge while Olympian Simone Manuel did her part in the social media chain.

 

 

 

 

 

Some have even taken it a step further and are committing to 22 pushups in 22 days, posting their progress online.

It reminds us that we are not meant to live alone and isolated from each other, or as Pope Benedict XVI once said, “We should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do, and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse” (Spe Salvi).

May we not only take up the #22PushupChallenge, but also reach out to veterans and those we know who are struggling with any type of depression. Even the simplest things we do for others can have an immense impact on their lives. In this year of Mercy, let us do our part to help others feel the love of God and know they are not alone.

Click here for instructions on how to participate.

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Philip Kosloski

Philip Kosloski is a husband and father of five, and staff writer at Aleteia. He also writes for The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer), and blogs at the National Catholic Register.