Suicide Awareness Month

Dial 988 if you or a loved one needs to connect to the suicide hotline

Text “HELLO” to 741741 if you prefer the text method


The Vets for Vets team would like to spread awareness of Suicide Awareness Month (SAM). SAM is the full month of September, and specifically Suicide Prevention Day is on September 10th. If you or a loved one is feeling helpless, lonely, and/or is showing signs of being suicidal please dial “988“. It will be rerouted to a live person on the hotline that can help you.


Suicide is easily a touchy subject to talk about. A lot more people than we would like to admit deal with the impacts of suicide in one way or another. This blog post is not meant to trigger anyone by any means. Unfortunately, we do not have a solid answer on how to solve this evolving issue. Humans are capable of so much good in this world. I truly believe that anyone can achieve anything if they put their mind to it, and dedicate themselves to achieve those desired results. What happens when your mind, your conscience, becomes your enemy? What happens when your mind stacks what seems like unbeatable odds against you? It would and/or could overpower you easily or over time. It feels like you are at war 24/7 with yourself. Sometimes, those who are closest to us are dealing with this very issue silently. How do we identify this early? What are some warning signs we can look for?

  • Speaking of wanting to die
  • Great guilt or shame
  • Unbearable emotional/physical pain
  • Isolation
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Alcohol/Drugs Abuse

The list above is just a few signs to look for. However, everyone is different and deals with situations differently. Some of what I just listed may not apply to that close person who is considering it. They could be hiding that behind a smile and laughter. Take it from me and my experiences. Again, please be reminded that this post is not meant to trigger anyone, it needs to be talked about for progress and change to occur.


Why would I say take it from me? During my time in the Marine Corps, suicide was common. You would hear stories of someone distant on base committing suicide. It seemed like it was something that occurred very often.. too much for my liking. Every duty station I went to (MCAS Iwakuni, Quantico) I was welcomed with a fresh incident of someone committing suicide in the barracks. People I never interacted with, yet felt overwhelming sadness for them and their families. I made it a point as a Military Police Patrolman to try my best to keep everyone around me safe and to “save lives”. That was my platoon’s motto at the time. Unfortunately one day, there would be an incident that changed my life forever.

This one is super hard for me to discuss, but I am willing to so that positive change can occur. One day out on patrol, we got a call over the radio of an “unresponsive Marine” in their barracks room. What seemed like half the platoon flew over there to investigate. Keep in mind also that MCAS Iwakuni hardly has any serious incidents that occur like this. There were times when people would commit suicide, but it didn’t feel real because it was just words being spoken if that makes sense. I entered the unresponsive marine’s room, and it immediately had that deathly smell smack me. If anyone has been around a dead body, you know what I am talking about. The kind of smell that never leaves your memory. Unfortunately, I still smell it from time to time to this day. We found the Marine, who turned out to be a female, lying on her bed facing the wall. She looked like she was sleeping on her side and just motionless. I was the first to get close to her and try to see what could be done since I was in charge of my platoon at the time. I touched her to see if there was a pulse at all, and she was stiff and cold. As a patrolman, we are not authorized to declare anyone dead on scene (at the time, SOP could have changed but I don’t know).. but I knew it right away. We did our best by moving her body from the bed to the floor so we could perform CPR and the like. I remember putting so much pressure in the chest compressions you could hear the sternum crack. We did everything we could until Japanese fire department came and took over CPR. Tried the AED, with no success. I helped carry her down at least 3 flights of stairs into the ambulance and then never saw her again.

Everything that transpired from this incident would not take a toll on me until the following days and weeks. It was like I couldn’t comprehend what had happened for a bit.  I felt a tremendous amount of guilt and shame because I blamed myself for her death. I blamed myself that I couldn’t bring her back. I thought I failed not only myself, but the poor Marine that had passed, her family, my family, and everyone I worked with. I felt like the purpose of my life meant nothing. I isolated myself for quite some time. I had trouble talking to my wife and family about any of it because I felt like they wouldn’t understand. I did have extreme mood swings over this. In my off time, I tried to drink myself to death. I felt like I couldn’t handle that guilt anymore. A few buddies of mine stopped me and got me through the night. I do not remember going from that off-base bar back to my barracks room.. but I am grateful for those who helped me get there.

Little help was offered from my leadership. Am I saying they didn’t care? No. It just seemed like since it wasn’t an incident that occurred while in combat, it took a backseat. I had to give statements to NCIS during this period. Giving out vivid details of what happened, as if they were eye witnesses to everything. I was told at the time that it was being investigated as an assisted suicide. There were people with her that night that were drinking and mixing prescription drugs and it ended up taking her life. I was told that by the time we got there, she was dead for at least 12 hours. Those that were with her cleaned up the scene and then reported it. Even with talking to NCIS over it, I still felt responsible. It’s crazy what the mind can do to you. It can make you believe everything is on you, even if you perfectly respond to situations like this. I was told that training incoming officers would be based off my responses to the situation, and giving clear order on how to handle it at a leadership level. I am blessed to have been told this as it did ease my guilt a bit.

I’m thankful I did end up telling my family. They cast no judgements and want to support me with my mental battles over this. I still deal with it. But now I am a father. I carry this burden of mine to hopefully show my son that you can get through anything with a good support group around you. This was just a touch of my story. People out there deal with far worse or even something similar. I feel for all of you. Just know you are never alone and fully loved. I hope this helps someone.. just to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Please talk to someone about what you are going through. It’s hard for sure but can avoid a heartbreaking incident. We at Vets for Vets are committed to helping in anyway we can, even if it’s just talking over the phone to get you the help you need.


Dial 988 if you or a loved one needs to connect to the suicide hotline

Text “HELLO” to 741741 if you prefer the text method