Fighting military suicides with peer counseling
(CBS News) The Pentagon granted a six-month extension Wednesday to a pilot call-in program for American military personnel considering suicide.
The suicide rate among both active-duty troops and reservists is alarming, and it's increased dramatically this year.
One effort to save troubled lives is led by veterans who understand the problem all too well.
Marine reservist Tim Arora served in 2006 near Fallujah, Iraq. He saw some of the most intense fighting of the war.
Arora returned with deep psychological wounds so severe he requested a service dog for companionship and comfort.
"I was thinking of suicide pretty much on a daily basis," Tim said. "Now it's just how I help others with it."
Arora works at a call center at New Jersey's University of Medicine with 25 other veterans. It's called "Vets 4 Warriors." It's a place veterans can call to talk confidentially with other vets. They get 300 calls a week here.
Arora said that being a peer counselor is good for him, adding " it's helping yourself, having closure on your own issues, knowing that hopefully what you've gone through benefited you and now can benefit someone else."Vets 4 Warriors website Hotline: 1-855-838-8255
Man's best friend is a lifesaver to soldiers
Army suicide widows: Too little, too late
U.S. military suicide rate doubles for July
About 40 percent of the callers are at risk of suicide.
"When they come home they come home to their communities. They are not coming home to army bases or military mental health centers. They're coming home to their parents," said Linda Bean, whose son Coleman committed suicide in 2008 after two tours in Iraq.
He killed himself on the 8th anniversary of his enlistment in the Army.
"He went to the fridge and talked to his father, and gave me a hug and a kiss and walked out the door. And the next morning we got a call that he had shot and killed himself in his apartment. And our life turned upside down," Linda said.
Linda Bean is now an advocate for the peer counseling Vets 4 Warriors provides. The Pentagon has committed to funding this program until next spring, but bean is lobbying to make it permanent.
"We owe Coleman a duty. If we don't stand up for these young people, who is going to do that?" Linda asked.
When the phone rings, Tim said he thinks to himself: "just take a deep breath, answer the phone. You know, the majority of us know what it's like to go living day-to-day in fear. We don't think you're crazy, you know, we just want to help being one vet to another."
The veterans are answering another call of duty to save lives.
- Couple's steamy romance e-books save their home
- SCOTUS: States can't require voters to prove citizenship; Couple reeling from recession publishes novels
- Couple reeling from recession rewrites story, publishes romance novels
- Snowden: "U.S. Government is not going to be able to cover this up"
- Iran's new president-elect seen as bridge-builder
- SCOTUS: States can't require voters to prove citizenship
- Syria tensions make for chilly meeting between Obama, Putin
- Colo. Black Forest fire has died down, yet danger remains
- Parents of mentally ill child may have averted mass shooting
- Ghost army: How a group of artists helped win WWII
- Okla. tornado survivor finds dog buried alive under rubble
- 6/16: Protesters seek refuge in Istanbul hotel; Pope blesses Harley Davidson motorcycles
- Mayhem in Istanbul hotel as protesters seek refuge
- Crucial early education program badly hurt by federal cuts
- What does the new Iranian president mean for the rest of the world?
- The power of a uniquely American song