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Monday, April 25, 2016

Buddy Check 22 Facebook group: Life-saving through crowd-sharing

David Woolery was in the Marine Corps in eastern Afghanistan in 2004 when a bomb exploded under a convoy he was in, injuring some of the men.  He got through that with the help of his fellow Marines, but the return to the U.S. was more unsettling. 

“Out here is every man for himself,” he said.  People back-stabbing.  It’s all me, me, me.”

In 2015, Mr. Woolery started a Buddy Check 22 Facebook group for his unit, which was “a big lifeline” that later expanded to other veterans.  They shared stories of combat, spoke the same language.  Recently, a member dropped a screen shot of a veteran’s suicidal remark into the group’s page and wrote, “Let’s find this guy.”

“The man had said his good-byes and was about to kill himself,” Mr. Woolery said.  But word spread, and eventually people tracked him down and sent help.  It was lifesaving through crowd-sharing.

Why the name “Buddy Check 22?”  To thousands of veterans and active-duty soldiers, the 22nd of every month is a reminder to make a suicide prevention spot-check on former comrades.  A Department of Veterans Affairs study in 2012 said an estimated 22 veterans committed suicide every day in 2010.  While other studies calculated a lower tally, closer to one or two per day, the number 22 has taken on potent symbolism on social media.

Advice to veterans:  Join this group.

Read another suicide prevention story.  Thanks to Christine Hauser of the New York Times for the source article on April 24. 

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