“Buddy check on 22! Where are my warriors?!” That was how E. Michael Davis, a former army sergeant, greeted his Facebook friends one afternoon last month.
One-by-one, the men and women who had been deployed with him in Iraq and Afghanistan checked in. Many were executing the most mundane of life’s tasks, but they were still alive: Working a long shift. Heading home for a beer. Exercising. Listening to music at the moment, thanks.
It was March 22. To many civilians, just another Tuesday. But 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, from roll calls to push-up challenges.
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Photo: Credit Hayden Noble