Sunday, May 29, 2016

Veteran Has New Mission After Attempted Suicide, Saving Others

Suicide Attempt: A Soldier's Story
ABC News 25
By Jillian Corder, Reporter
Friday, May 27th 2016

"There's no way that God allowed me to live through this if there is a God - which I know there is - that he would not want me to be helping other people when he saved me through that," Matthew Richard
After struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder , or PTSD, for years, Matthew Richard attempted to take his own life in March. (Source: Jillian Corder/KPLC)
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Louisiana, and every 13 hours, someone dies by their own hand, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nationwide, stories of veterans falling victim to mental health disorders are all too common.

After struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder , or PTSD, for years, Matthew Richard, 30, attempted to take his own life in March.

"So I looked in the mirror and I said 'God I'm going to countdown,'" Richard said, describing the moment he decided to take his own life, "I said 3, and I took it off safety. I said '3, 2, 1' and I said 'God' and I shot."

To understand what led Richard to this moment, he starts from the beginning of his military career. He joined the Marine Corps in 2005, following in the footsteps of his godfather.

"I told myself since I was 6 or 7 years old that I was going to be a Marine because of him," he said.

Just two years in the service, tragedy struck when Richard was overseas in Ramadi, Iraq.

"I ended up accidentally shooting a best friend of mine over there when we got back from patrol," said Richard.

Richard's gun discharged, killing Lance Corporal Steven Chavez. He went to the brig for a year for negligent homicide and received a bad conduct discharge, meaning his military benefits were stripped. Richard was no longer eligible for help from the VA, forcing him to deal with PTSD on his own.

"I was struggling mentally, physically, and spiritually for a long time after that dealing with it," said Richard.

Richard was in a place he never thought he'd be.

"I've had four or five senior Marines who have come back from war and shot themselves over divorce or other things, and I told myself, 'I'll never do that.'"
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