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Idaho recognizes veteran suicide awareness month

Posted: 10:42 PM, Apr 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-06 04:42:20Z

Idaho recognizes April as Veteran Suicide Awareness Month  Idaho is the first state to recognize April as Veteran Suicide Awareness Month. Steven Exceen is the founder of Ride for 22, a veteran advocacy group. Exceen, a former Marine, has been fighting for years to bring awareness to veteran suicide after losing his friend. Back in October, Exceen approached the City of Meridian about recognizing April as Veteran Suicide Awareness Month.Exceen says Mayor Tammy de Weerd was immediately on board and helped facilitate a meeting with the mayors of neighboring cities.Exceen then drafted a proclamation that eventually made its way to Governor Butch Otter's desk. Thursday evening, Senator Marv Hagedorn read the proclamation in front of a crowd at High Desert Harley Davidson. Bridget Frank was one of the roughly 100 people in attendance. Frank lost her son Destin Frank to suicide on September 23rd, 2017.

" The Ada County coroner told me that he died from a gunshot wound," said Frank.

At the time of Destin's death, he was on active duty. His mother said the warning signs were there.

"I know he struggled, and he reached out for help," said Frank.
 
The Idaho woman said she tried to be her son's strength. 

"When it's active-duty, veterans seclude themselves because they are going through so much," said Frank. 

She further explained her son was talking about the suicides he would hear about on the base. Exceen said some families feel helpless.

"They need help. They need the resources. They need to help their loved ones," said Exceen.

More than 20 veterans die by suicide daily across the country. Exceen said everyone knows a veteran and is affected on some level.

"10 percent of Idahoans are veterans," said Exceen.

Frank and Exceen say suicides can be stopped through awareness, education and treatment. Frank just wants others to hear her story in hopes that it could save someone's life. 
   
If you or anyone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, depression or just want to chat or text with someone do not hesitate to call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at (208) 398-4357, or visit https://www.idahosuicideprevention.org

If you would like to get involved, Ride For 22 is hosting the 3rd Annual Military Veterans Suicide Awareness Rally on April 21st at 10 a.m. at the High Desert Harley Davidson in Meridian.