There’s a viral movement afoot on social media with the goal of bringing awareness to veteran suicides. It’s called the #22PushupChallenge and even celebrities are getting in on the effort.
The challenge, which began in August, is meant to bring awareness to service men and women who take their lives post-conflict. No doubt your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds have been inundated with friends and family accepting the challenge to do 22 pushups a day for 22 days.
The challenge was born out of a 2013 study from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that found 22 vets commit suicide every day. However, an updated study dropped that number slightly to 20.
Marine veteran Andy Nguyen, founder of multiple veteran organizations, including White Star Families of America, and veteran.Me, is credited with helping to movement go viral, according to Wikipedia.
How the 22 Pushup Challenge works
If you’ve been challenged on social media to participate, the concept is simple: Complete 22 consecutive pushups every day for 22 days. Similar to the ALS #IceBucketChallenge, it encourages participants to be filmed doing 22 pushups and then nominating others to do the same.
How the #22PushupChallege differs is that requesting donations is not a primary focus, which may have alleviated any stresses of financial obligation to participate.
Going beyond pushups
Recent VA research indicates that 66 percent of Veterans who die by suicide are dying from firearm injuries. And while this situation may seem hopeless, the VA says it offers an opportunity for intervention. “If enough distance could be built in between the person who is having suicidal thoughts and the action with a lethal method, there may be enough time for the crisis to pass without the person ever making a suicide attempt,” says a post on the VA’s VAntage blog.
By promoting firearm safety practices, and providing free cable locks for safe firearm storage, the VA is working to show Veterans, their loved ones, and any stakeholders of Veterans’ health and suicide prevention, how relatively simple, safe and practical firearm safety measure are.