FT. LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - Six months wasn’t enough for Lauri Turner.
“He got back September 12 and he took his life on April 5,” she explained.
Her son, Jacob Andrews, was discharged from the Army during his first tour in Afghanistan after a night of drinking and fighting.
Turner didn’t let her pride wave, even though her son was no longer a soldier. Instead, she staged a ribbon cutting in her front yard for Andrews. The yellow ribbon he cut that day was on a tree in the family’s front yard. The ribbon hung there throughout Andrews’ entire deployment.
Six months after Andrews returned, he took his own life.
A neighbor found Andrews hanging from a tree in a nearby wooded area.
“I have that vision of my son, a thousand times a day and I try everything I can think of to shake it,” Turner said.
The image of Andrews suicide still haunts Turner.
“I would not wish it on anyone. I would not wish it on a soul," Turner said with tears in her eyes.
During the months after Andrews’ return, Turner saw the warning signs escalate.
“I was doing my best to hang on to him and just keep those fingers tight but ultimately I had no control and that's been the hardest thing,” Turner said. “I prayed it wouldn't. I was trying to do everything that I could.”
Turner believes the brain injuries her son sustained during duty weren't properly diagnosed. His PTSD, she said, was not property treated.
Now, her life's mission is to raise awareness.
Suicide Prevention and Intervention
Kevin Wharton teaches suicide prevention and intervention at Fort Leavenworth .
“We try to identify the people who are high risk and try to bring them to our programs way before somebody thinks about suicide," he explained.
Soldiers are taught to protect the man to his left and right and the program is no different, especially when it comes to confronting your comrade.
“You ask them, ‘Are you thinking about killing yourself? Are you thinking about suicide?’ And, not everybody is real comfortable with that,” explained Wharton, “So we teach them that, and go through role plays where they actually have to sit across from a friend and ask, as a gatekeeper, that question 'Are you thinking about killing yourself? Are you thinking about suicide?'"
According to Wharton, the Army uses a program called ASIST to train its soldiers.
Soldiers at Ft. Leavenworth are issued a pair of cards with a list of places to take a suicidal friend who needs immediate care.
If you or someone you know needs help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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