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Suicide survivor shares story with Naval Hospital staff

By Alison Parker
Published On: Oct 24 2013 05:31:21 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 24 2013 05:44:06 PM CDT
CAMP LEJEUNE, ONSLOW COUNTY -

Andrew O'Brien had a tough time growing up, so he joined the Army looking for family and a life's mission. But in Iraq, he found himself vulnerable instead -- seeing the aftermath of an IED hitting a patrol truck.

"When you put on this uniform, you're supposed to be stronger than everyone else, because that's your job," O'Brien said. "Your job is to protect the weaker."

O'Brien turned to four pill bottles and alcohol to end his life. Thankfully, he lived, and now has a second chance to heal. He travels as founder of Project WYSH (Welcome Your Soldier Home) to inspire those like him to seek treatment before it's too late.

"The average military service member is from 18 to 24," O'Brien said. "That's a young age to be losing people to suicide. These people have a lot of lives left to live. We have to help them realize they're not weird, they're not different. They're perfect."

He visited Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune to speak to about 50 staff members. Richard Marquis is one of the Chief Corpsmen at the hospital, who's inspired to be there for anyone who needs to talk.

"We're not super human," Marquis said. "Give someone the opportunity to help. Recognize that you need help. Give someone a chance -- 2 o' clock in the morning, 2 o' clock in the afternoon. It doesn't matter. Call me."

O'Brien's story hit home with Stacie Jackson, whose friend also almost committed suicide.

"It just made me think of the adrenaline rush and how much I didn't want her to," Jackson said. "I didn't think she was selfish at all. I just thought that she needed someone there."

O'Brien says treatment can start by just having someone there to listen. But it's up to those affected to decide to reach out and get help.

"As a military, we don't send one person to Afghanistan to end a war," O'Brien said. "So you can't send one -- you can't just fight your mind by yourself because sometimes it's the most dangerous place to be."

If you're looking for treatment or counseling, here are a couple of places to start:

http://wyshproject.org/
http://www.mccslejeune.com/health/