John Wemlinger, local author of the new book Before the Snow Flies, addressed the national epidemic of suicide
Onekama resident John Wemlinger briefly discussed the plot of his new book Before the Snow Flies which follows a grievously injured Army Major who is contemplating suicide before returning to Onekama, MI where he finds new reasons to live.
John's discussion really focused on the epidemic of suicide in the US.  47,000 people die annually at their own hands, and suicide is one of the top 3 fastest growing causes of death in this country.  Military personnel and veterans are 1-1/2 times more likely to commit suicide than civilians.  As a 27 year veteran of the Army, John was able to identify a number of reasons for this among veterans:
  • their loss of membership in something bigger than themselves
  • survivors guilt; why did my buddies die and not me?
  • fewer die on the battlefield due to advances in medicine only to survive with truly grievous injuries
  • moral injury: they grew up being told "thou shall not kill" only to violate that commandment in the military
John suggested that a 10-12 week training to return to civilian life similar to basic training be conducted for everyone being discharged.  Also that we all watch for signs of depression or suicidal thoughts and reach out to that person and "touch" them.  Finally, he reinforced the need for each of us to support the creation of a 3-digit suicide prevention hotline: 988.