Local veteran and suicide survivor walks 22 miles to raise awarenessPublished at | Updated at
MALAD — A local man is walking 22 miles on 9/22 to raise awareness for veterans who have lost their lives to suicide.
Warren Price of Malad started walking Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m. near Fielding Memorial Park Cemetery in Idaho Falls along U.S. Highway 91. He will end his journey in Blackfoot.
“I am starting a project called the 9/22 Project. Suicide awareness month is September, the ninth month of the year, and unfortunately, in America, we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide. A couple of years back, I almost became one of those 22. I made an attempt after I came home from Iraq,” Price said.
According to a 2015 article from the Washington Post, the statistic that there are 22 veteran suicides each day is a widely cited figure in reference to veteran suicides. This statistic comes from the VA’s 2012 Suicide Data Report, which analyzed death certificates from 21 states from 1999 to 2011. Click here to learn more.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, data shows that there were 6,146 national veteran suicides in 2020. In Idaho, during the same year, there were a total of 57 veteran suicides.
Price told EastIdahoNews.com he has been walking in a pair of combat boots that he wore while he was serving in Iraq. He shared that he was an army medic with the Utah National Guard and went to Iraq in February 2004, and came back to the United States in February 2005. He was 34 years old at the time.
Now, at age 53, he recalls he attempted suicide when he was 36 years old. When he came home from Iraq, he lost five friends to suicide.
“It felt like a personal failure on my part that I wasn’t there, that I didn’t do enough, that I didn’t recognize those signs. When I got home, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I started abusing medication that the VA gave me, and I got to the point … I thought the world would be better off without me,” Price said. “I made an attempt at suicide. Thankfully, it wasn’t successful. I am a suicide survivor. I am just trying to make a difference.”
Price has been posting updates on his Facebook throughout the day on Thursday as he has been walking the 22 miles. Price has worn a bright orange sweatshirt so people can see him while walking. The names of people he and his friends have lost to suicide are written on the sweatshirt.
Price made a point that suicide doesn’t just affect veterans, but it’s something that affects everyone.
“I think if I were to ask you, ‘Have you lost anyone to suicide?’ or ‘Do you know someone who has lost someone to suicide?’ I think all of us could agree that this is something that affects everybody,” he said.
He explained there is a stigma toward suicide, and he would like to change it so people can get the help they need.
“We’re told that it’s a sign of weakness. We’re told that people who commit suicide are selfish, that they are looking for a permanent solution for a temporary problem. They are really put down,” Price said. “The longer that I am around, the more I understand the people that I lost to suicide — some of them were the strongest people I have ever met in my life, but life just got to be too heavy for them.”
Price is grateful to be alive. He has talked at different events around the country about veteran issues like PTSD. He also became a substance abuse counselor and tries to help others.
He is hoping the walk will become a tradition. He even had friends come along and walk a few miles with him.
“I am hoping this is the start of something better and that every year from now on, there will be a walk,” Price said.
He is encouraging members of the community to donate $22 to his cause on his Venmo at @Warren-Price-1. He plans to use that money to raise awareness and donate to local nonprofit groups.
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