Fox Files: Seeking help for mental illness

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - This is the season of re-birth.  We're surrounded by beautiful blooms.  You might think it's tougher to struggle through emotional issues during the winter.  Really, it's in the -spring when people are more likely to fall into depression as they reflect on where they are in life.

War veteran Ruben Jordan said, “How can you tell somebody mentally, their stability?  It`s something that can`t be seen.”

War veteran Christian Shewcraft said, “I`ve thought about shooting myself.  I`ve talked with the suicide prevention coordinator. Now I`ve given my gun to a friend to store at his house.”

Reporter Chris Hayes followed up, “If you wouldn`t have done that on your own you would still have access to that gun?”

Shewcraft confirmed, “Yes.”

Both men feel alone.

Jordan continued, “I wanted to take my life, but I think my faith, my belief that I did not have a right to take my life, saved me.”

Hayes asked, “Did you have a physical plan?”

Jordan said, “Yeah, I was going to run my car into something, high speed, something instant, didn`t want to cut myself or shoot myself but yeah, I think anybody that gets into a depressive stage thinks about it.”

A 2012 V.A. study found as many as 22 veterans kill themselves each day.

Trauma is striking beyond warzones.

A nationwide organization that speaks to schools, called Rachel`s Challenge, is finding hundreds of children thinking about suicide.  In three years, Rachel`s Challenge' has documented 500 suicide plans from kids.  Some emailed, others spoke out in person, like an example shown on the Rachel's Challenge web site.  A student says, “Before this I was suicidal.  I was thinking about ending my own life.” The student was telling Craig Scott, the brother of Rachel Scott who was the first person killed in the 1999 columbine massacre.

After Rachel died, people flooded her family with stories about how Rachel started a chain reaction of kindness.  Rachel`s Uncle Larry Scott recently spoke to MICDS students.  During an interview with Fox2, he said, “You`ve got to help that person who feels alone, out there all by themselves and today, even though there`s more people in the world than there`s ever been, there`s more lonely people in the world than there`s ever been.”

Jane Smith talks to those hurting every day.  She’s a life crisis services clinician with Provident.  Hers may be the voice you`ll hear if you call a crisis line.  She said, “Suicides are now the second leading cause of death in the 15-24 year old age group.  It used to be the third leading cause of death now it`s second only to accidents.”

Smith says suicides are climbing overall, including people who seem to have great things going for them.  It includes successful adults and those with money, athletes, popular people and those with strong -family support.  You may know someone who`s struggling, but they may not feel comfortable being honest.”

Smith said, “We frequently have people call when they just want to talk to an impartial third party about something going on in their lives and even when these people are suicidal, frequently they`ll say at the end of the call, you know I feel much better, I`m not feeling so suicidal right now, I just need somebody to hear me and really validate me.”

While talking to veterans Shewcraft and Jordan, I could sense a loneliness from dealing with mounds of paperwork, filled with words of rejection.

Shewcraft said, “I just had another denial from waiting a year and a half for DRO reviews and just wondering how long you can hang on.”

Jordan added, “It`s a mind game, it`s like a drip of water that keeps dripping and dripping and dripping.”

Jordan said it was the possibility of making human connections that kept him from killing himself.  He said, “I refuse to go out that way, Chris. My fight is not just for me. My fight has got to be for another veteran too that has been.  All he has to say is that he`s suffered the same situations that I`ve suffered and that compassion is there because if one falls, we’re trained to go back and get him. We`ve got to pick him up.”

Jordan died unexpectedly after this interview, from heart failure.  He was 49 years old.  You just heard or read about his commitment to compassion, just like Rachel Scott, who died sharing her lunch with a friend at Columbine High School.

Larry Scott added, “(Rachel) said show compassion, don`t just feel compassion, show it.  That`s an action, it`s not just a feeling and whenever you show actions for it, we make a difference in the world.”

Maybe the most powerful action you can do for someone, is listen.