The #22Pushups Challenge: What You Can Do for Vets With PTSD



Brace yourselves for an unsettling statistic: 22 veterans die by suicide every day.

That’s why you may have been tagged on Facebook or Twitter — or will be soon — to do #22pushups.

Say what?

The #22KILL movement was organized in 2013 by a group called Honor Courage Commitment to raise awareness about the staggering statistics on veteran suicide, and also to educate the public about mental health issues in general. 22KILL became its own nonprofit organization two years later, expanding its initiatives into a variety of programs that raise awareness of the epidemic of suicide in members of the military and among veterans.

Make Your Pushups Count for Veterans

My favorite thing about this movement is #22pushups, because it’s gone viral, generating conversations about this serious topic on social media.

The folks at 22KILL wanted to reach a goal of 22 million pushups “to honor those who serve and to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention.” They recently met that goal; their counter is currently at 28.5 million.

If you’d like to add to the count but are fretting, thinking back to eighth grade gym class when you couldn’t get to five pushups, don’t worry. There are accommodations for those of us who can’t pull off 22. You can do pushups on your knees, or with the help of a wall or desk. Air pushups (whatever those are) will even be accepted for those who are physically unable to do any.

Here are 22KILL’s instructions for submitting your pushups:

  1. Record a video of yourself in which you state your NAME and the organization you represent (if you do), and WHY you are doing the pushups or WHO you are doing them for.
  2. Upload the video directly to 22KILL’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed.
  3. Add hashtags to your post. For example: #(insert a number here)pushups and #22KILL. Make sure to add those two hashtags into your public post (make sure you set your post to “public” setting) on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. If you did 22 pushups, you would enter: “#22pushups for #22KILL”.
  4. Post it! You can do it by yourself or with a group (companies, sports teams, schools, etc.). Be as creative as you want, using props, unique settings, and styles.

The Facts About Veteran Suicides

The data about 22 veterans dying each day from suicide was published in a Suicide Data Report issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012. The estimated number was based on data obtained from 21 states and calculated using service history as reported on death certificates.

The authors, Janet Kemp, RN, PhD, and Robert Bossarte, PhD, compiled some other interesting statistics regarding suicide among veterans:

  • Between 1999 and 2010, the average age of male veterans who died from suicide was 59.6 years among veterans identified on state death certificates, and 54.5 years among those [whose cause of death] could be validated using VA administrative records. The average age of male veterans who died from suicide was considerably older than the average age of male suicide decedents who were not identified as veterans (43.1 years).
  • Between 2007 and 2010, the number of deaths from suicide in the United States increased by nearly 11 percent, and the rate of suicide increased by more than 8 percent.
  • The percentage of veteran suicides range from a low of just over 7 percent to more than 26 percent of all suicides.
  • Males accounted for more than 97 percent of all suicides among those identified as veterans, compared to approximately 74 percent among non-veteran suicide decedents.
  • Females accounted for less than 3 percent of all suicides among reported veterans, compared to more than 26 percent among suicide decedents without a reported history of military service.
  • Veterans who died from suicide were more likely to have been married, widowed, or divorced; to be identified as non-Hispanic whites; and to have comparatively higher levels of academic achievement.
  • There appears to be a seasonal trend, with more suicide events in the spring and summer months, as noted in 2010 and 2011.

Don’t wait to get tagged by a friend on Facebook to share your support for programs like the ones by 22KILL that connect veterans to resources that save lives. Your pushups for this cause would mean a lot more than they did in gym class: They are a statement about helping the wounded warriors who have so generously served us, and about awareness of the suicide epidemic in this country.

Join Project Hope & Beyond, a depression community.


Originally posted on Sanity Break.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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1 Response
  1. Doing What I Can

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve many Veteran’s in my family. Each of them has differing degrees of PTSD.