Published: September 10, 2020
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By: Gerrod Boothe, Tarleton State University
Category: Social Sciences
Hashtags: #Advocacy #advocacyforchange #AdvocacyGroups #advocacyletter #advocacyproject #advocacyresearch #Communication #Communications #Coursework #CriticalThinking #Presentation #Psychology #PsychologyFoundations #Research #Writing
In this assignment, I had to learn and effectively advocate for students, clients, patients, and the counseling profession with legislators. Using the Texas Counseling Association Advocacy Manual, I had to learn, understand, and convey a topic I am advocating for by creating a mental picture of the situation being described, explain abstracts accurately, and explain the concepts to make sense to the uninformed reader. To effectively advocate for my topic, I had to learn strategies to support client advocacy and influence public policy, government relations on local state, and national levels to enhance equity that affect the practice of clinical mental health counseling.
Suicide and/or self-harm is a terrible experience for everyone involved at some level. It is damaging to an acquaintance’s or family’s psyche that tears at the fabric of our social contract when someone decides to end their life by their own hand or punishes themselves by causing physical and psychological pain. The stigma of suicide prevention has made the prevention of suicide difficult because it is misunderstood. I chose this topic because I have felt the residual pains from someone else’s suicide far too many times and my own suicidal ideation. This pain is exacerbated when it comes from one of my Army family members that take their life, regardless if stationed in garrison or deployed to another country during a time of war especially (if you served in the Army or military, you are my family).
Before joining the Army that came as a result of watching 9/11 happen in high school, I did not have any mental health disturbances and was optimistically naïve about negative aspects in life. I graduated high school at 16 years old and left for basic training on my 17th birthday. I have spent a total of 6 years between Iraq and Afghanistan, but I did not notice my PTSD until the end of my eight-year contract. During one of my deployments, I had been shot during a firefight while trying to rescue my Soldier to safety. After receiving my purple heart medal while I recovered in the combat support hospital (CSH; we pronounce it cash), I received my Dear John Letter from my first marriage when she told me what her boyfriend’s name was. I returned home to Alaska from Ramadi, Iraq in 2010 but was reassigned to Phoenix, Arizona in 2011. While riding my motorcycle home, I was hit and left by a drunk driver that happened to be a nurse in a local hospital. One of my conflagrations comes from John McCain’s law that women are allowed to flee the scene of hitting someone with a vehicle (sober or inebriated) without legal recourse because they are “scared.” If she didn’t wreck 800 yards from me, I would be dead. Is this what I fought for when I signed up to fight for my country? It gets worse, because when I came out of my 3.5-month coma, the medical staff told me that I had AIDS. That woman told the police the reason she blew a 0.383 breathalyzer test (BAC) was that "her boyfriend gave her AIDS", the police thought I was her boyfriend, and told the hospital staff that. The hospital never gave me a blood test and it took two suicidal weeks to get a blood test done. I do not have AIDS, but you can see why suicide immediately came to mind after sharing this small window of what I have been through.
What stemmed from this $680,000 medical bill to keep me alive are a number of deep scars and missing a lower right leg and knee. I remember seeing my reflection in the mirror without my leg and all I could think was I am not worth anything to anyone anymore. I was extremely active, loved to skateboard as an outlet, cardiovascular exercises that required running, and loved the Army. I cannot do any of these things anymore, but does that stop me from trying? Hell no, because I am not about to let her win. She had stolen the life I had bled to build and when I faced her in federal court, she told me I was not the only victim there because “the white man took her land”. She didn’t even care about what she did to me. I had to educate her that I am not a victim because that would require me letting her take me down and she failed. It is still true I am not worth anything to anyone in the dating scene because I have yet to find anyone that would date someone like me with an amputation, further reinforcing why I wanted to commit suicide for so long. At this point, I do not care. As long as I have my son, dogs, and ducks I am fine. I simply mention this to drive my point, not to seek attention.
Suicide ideation has plagued me in different and heavily strenuous times in my life I continue to push through because of those in my world, but I have had friends and military family members not so fortunate and took their life. Instead of hoping suicide prevention programs might help, we need to change the world to knowing the said programs DO help. I did not commit suicide because I had a strong familial support group that took suicide prevention seriously without complaint. Every time I heard about a friend/Soldier that committed suicide, I begin to think it is my fault in some way because I could have been there to help pick them up when they had fallen. It was not until my son, Alastor, was born and helped save me from myself. Unfortunately, according to the bill projected statistics, the suicide prevention bill has a 3% chance of being passed. I need this bill passed because my friends and family have literally fought through many different hells together and survived, but committing suicide is not the correct answer; it is an easy way out. I will always take the hard right over the easy wrong and I hold everyone to the same standards.