THATCHER (News4Utah) – A navy veteran is setting out on a mission across the country to raise money and awareness for suicide.
Scott Lawson has combat-related PTSD. He served in the navy for 12 years with deployments in the Persian Gulf for Operations Desert Shield and Somalia for Operation United Shield.
During active duty, he attempted suicide a couple times. The first time was dismissed as alcohol-related. The second time, Lawson said he was saved by police officers.
“I’ve had difficulty finding the right treatment, particularly through the V.A. and I don’t like taking medications,” said Lawson. “I went to a psychiatrist or psychologist before and she said, ‘That was 10 years ago. You need to get over it.’ From that point on, I had difficulty talking to people.”
In July 2001, he lost his younger brother, Joey to suicide. He said his uncle, Luke, a Vietnam War veteran was instrumental in helping him cope with his brother’s death. But in 2007, his uncle also took his own life.
“When I go through those suicidal thoughts or ideations, it’s a constant battle of memories and emotions,” said Lawson.”I want that chain to be broken. I want to live,”
Lawson has also lost several veteran brothers to suicide who suffered from depression, PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries.
In August, he became inspired by an army veteran’s mission to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 journey from Mexico to Canada.
“Nature is my sanctuary. Just by getting away from all the commotion, everything from the outside…sitting down, looking at all the wonders of the beauty nature has offered me…brings me solace, “said Lawson.
He’s aiming to raise $100,000 along the way for Mission22, a veteran suicide awareness organization. He said 84 percent of the money will go towards helping veterans with resources they need.
Lawson departs for San Diego on Saturday and will begin his six-month journey in Campo, California on March 30th.
He hopes this mission will also help him heal from his PTSD and depression.
“There’s a quote by Paulo Coelho that I’m living by: ‘Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place,'” said Lawson. “If I can survive this trip, then I can do anything.”
To follow Lawson on his journey or donate to his cause, visit his website here.
Veteran Suicide Statistics, 2014
- In 2014, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide each day. Six of the 20 were users of VA services
- In 2014, veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults, while veterans constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. population
- After adjusting for differences in age and gender, risk for suicide was 21 percent higher among veterans when compared to U.S. civilian adults