How The Veterans Community On Facebook Stopped A Soldier From Taking His Own Life

Community
Photo by Timothy Hale

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the U.S. Army’s official website. As Suicide Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s important to remember that one small act can make a difference. If a veteran or service member you know is showing signs of crisis, take action to make sure that individual receives the care he or she needs.


Shown above is Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Powell's plea for help on Facebook after his former Soldier posted pictures of a suicide attempt. Another Soldier responded shortly after on Powell's message they were able to get to the Soldier in time and save him.

A Facebook post. Two cut wrists. Time is the enemy.

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Powell saw one Facebook post Aug. 31, which sent him frantically searching for a former soldier.

"He had cut his wrists, I mean about that far on each wrist," said Powell, gesturing slashing his forearm. "It wasn't horizontal it was a vertical cut, so I knew it was pretty serious. He posted one word ... 'Goodbye.'"

Powell said he was checking his Facebook that day like he typically does to stay in touch with friends and family.

He expected the normal string of photos and status updates, but when his former soldier shared his last call for help he took action.

"I saw that some people had already commented on it so I hit the comments and some were like 'Thinking about you man,' but nobody was saying 'Where are you?' Nobody. Seven or eight people had already responded and it's great to say how are you, but now it's time to dial 9-1-1."

Powell deployed with the soldier several years ago as the former 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery sergeant major.

They were friends on the social networking site, but Powell didn't know where he was currently stationed.

"Here I am, I'm trying to figure where in the world this guy is at. I was like what do I do? We need to do something now, right now."

After asking around Powell determined the soldier was overseas.

He called an Army division hotline and it gave him the number to the area coordinator.

As he was calling, he posted his own Facebook status asking for help.

"I need my Army family to reach out and find where (he) is at and get his unit to put their arms around him soon! I'm talking right now, too! He may be in serious danger and I'm worried about his emotional state right now. He may have tried committing suicide. He needs to know we care. Find him now!"

Powell said while he was doing all he could to reach the soldier, another battle buddy was doing the same thing.

Less than five minutes after Powell's post a reply said, "We got him sergeant major. I called the hotline and got (emergency medical service) enroute to him ... He's en route to the hospital and is stable and should be fine. They say they got to him in time."

Powell said the suicide attempt came after a failed relationship, and the soldier was wanting someone to take notice of him.

"We did. I just wish he wouldn't have done it."

He said all the soldiers who deployed with him were the first to respond and it even caught the soldier's brother off guard.

"It's that Army thing. It's that deployment thing ... That was a serious suicide attempt. He took the pictures right after he cut himself. They were pretty deep cuts.

"If he wouldn't have posted those pictures nobody would've known," said Powell.

He said the non-commissioned officer in the soldier's unit told Powell he was the second person to call about the suicide attempt and check on the well being of the soldier.

Powell said that's what he would hope for.

"Do something. Don't assume someone else is going to take action. You take action."

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Defense Department's authority to prosecute retired service members for crimes they commit, even after retirement.

The court on Tuesday chose not to hear the case of a retired Marine who was court-martialed for a sexual assault he committed three months after leaving the service in August 2015. By not accepting the case, Larrabee v. the United States, the court upheld the status quo: that military retirees are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Read More Show Less
A formation of U.S. Army soldiers with III Corps and Fort Hood honor the American flag as they lower it during the Retreat ceremony March 27, 2014. Retreat is conducted at the end of the day, every day, to honor the flag, which is raised during the Reveille ceremony each morning. All activity on the base stops for the duration of both ceremonies as soldiers pause, face the flag, and salute. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Ken Scar)

Soldiers and their spouses told Fort Hood brass and housing officials Thursday night about horrific conditions inside on-post housing, ranging from blooms of mold and lead paint to infestations of snakes and cockroaches and dangerously faulty window screens.

Read More Show Less
c1.staticflickr.com

When President Trump spoke of Islamic State last week, he described the group as all but defeated, even in the digital realm.

"For a period of time, they used the internet better than we did. They used the internet brilliantly, but now it's not so brilliant," the president said. "And now the people on the internet that used to look up to them and say how wonderful and brilliant they are are not thinking of them as being so brilliant."

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker, a 3rd Infantry Division Soldier who was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment and killed in action in Iraq in 2003, is depicted in a photo illustration alongside the Distinguished Service Cross medal, which he is slated to posthumously receive for his heroic actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, April 5, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pa. (U.S. Army)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Army has announced it will upgrade a former 3rd Infantry Division soldier's Silver Star to a Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery during the unit's "Thunder Run" attack on Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003.

Read More Show Less
KCNA

HANOI (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told the U.S. secretary of state he did not want his children to live with the burden of nuclear weapons, a former CIA officer involved in high-level diplomacy over the North's weapons was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Read More Show Less