How far can you carry those who have carried us? That is the question Jacob DiSabatino, a junior at St. Mark’s High School, is asking as he organizes his first-ever “22 in 22 Challenge” to stop soldier suicides.
Every day, we lose 22 active and retired military to suicide, twice the civilian rate. In response, the non-profit Stop Soldier Suicide was founded to create a lifeline for at-risk military and their families. In 2006, Brian Kinsella, a Second Lieutenant and platoon leader, had his first brush with solider suicide when a young soldier in his command made an unsuccessful attempt at taking her own life. It had a profound impact, and as a result, he was compelled to help stem the growing number of suicides in the military and veteran ranks. When Brian left the armed forces in 2010, he founded Stop Soldier Suicide. Today he serves as the non-profit organization’s CEO while also being employed full-time at a financial services firm in New York City.
Stop Soldier Suicide has seen a 466 percent increase in the number of people contacting them for help compared with this same time last year. Yet their resource center is not fully funded, is not 24/7 and does not have a telephone system. People must contact them via Facebook or Jacob’s website. That’s just not ideal. Jacob is trying to fix that.
Jacob has an interest in service to his community and the military. He decided to step forward and raise awareness to this issue by creating 22 in 22, a fitness fundraiser acknowledging the country’s daily number of military suicides. The event, beginning July 4th, encourages people to run, walk, wheel, cycle, practice yoga, swim, roll, hop, skip or jump 22 miles in 22 days and to help him raise money and awareness for this cause. He has set up a website to register participants in both Delaware and nationwide. The response has been heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Ideally, participants would sign up, encourage others to sign up and help spread the message through Facebook with an image like the accompanying photo shows. You can also visit the Stop Soldier Suicide Facebook page to see the magnitude of the problem and the grassroots effort to find help for those who sacrificed for us.