JESSICA LEEDER ATLANTIC REPORTER
PUBLISHED 21 HOURS AGO
There is no public list of military members or veterans who have taken their own lives. Telling stories of suicide is a long-held taboo in society and journalism. But social media has begun to shift the conversation and increasingly, mainstream media are reporting newsworthy deaths.
George Curtis is seen in 2013. Mr. Curtis was plagued with the nightmares, anxiety, hypervigilance and suicidal ideations that were symptoms of his post-traumatic stress disorder. FACEBOOK/GEORGE CURTISGeorge Curtis was a man born to help.
The Prince Edward Island veteran regularly went out of his way to visit ill friends in need of a boost, would quietly pick up a stranger’s restaurant tab as a kindness and to the exasperation of his former wife, was known to re-home spiders found inside rather than squish them.
Privately, though, Mr. Curtis was under a mental siege, plagued with the nightmares, anxiety, hypervigilance and suicidal ideations that were symptoms of his post-traumatic stress disorder. Over the weekend, it was discovered that the 47-year-old father ended his fight – and what he told friends was a too-long wait for residential treatment – when he died by suicide.
Just one day after discovering Mr. Curtis, who died at his remote camp on PEI, his family and closest friends are speaking out about his suicide and what they argue is a need to help other veterans struggling with PTSD and suicidal thoughts by publicly acknowledging when a soldier takes his or her own life.
“This shouldn’t be a hidden issue,” said Dennis MacKenzie, a veteran with PTSD in PEI who counted Mr. Curtis as one of his closest friends. Last month, through the non-profit group Brave and Broken, Mr. MacKenzie launched a social media campaign titled “If I Take My Life,“ which is aimed at creating awareness of the suicide “epidemic plaguing our veterans.”
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