When John Murray Jr. spotted the word “suicide” on a poster at an Army health center, a simple question turned into a big movement.
Thinking the 7-year-old boy would quickly move on, John's mom reluctantly explained what the word meant when he asked about it. But the compassionate Alabama boy was inspired to take action, NBC reported.
"When they don't have any broken arms or legs, and no blood," John told the news outlet, "you can't see the sadness inside them, but they still need help."
John was distraught to learn that suicidal veterans are hesitant to seek assistance. Determined to inspire even just one vet to reach out to a professional, he scrawled “Ask for help!!!!!” on four post-it notes and left them in the waiting room of the Fox Army Health Center in his home town, NBC reported.
“I wrote a reminder for Army people to ask for help and did five exclamation points because it is real important,” John told his mom, Ingrid, according to the U.S. Army website. “My teacher, Ms. Hardiman, said an exclamation point is like yelling a sentence. I put five exclamation points so it would be really loud. Maybe the Army person who is hurt just forgot to ask for help. This will help remind them."
Such a moving story comes at a time when suicide is running rampant among the military community. One veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes, according to the most extensive study conducted by the U.S. government on the issue.
The figures were released earlier this month after the military noted that suicides outpaced combat deaths in 2012, hitting a record of 349 active-duty suicides.
The VA said that the new report will help them identify at-risk groups and develop more targeted intervention programs, according to Reuters.
But those familiar with John Murray Jr.’s simple outreach, say that there is a very deep lesson to be learned.
“Suicide is a challenging topic to discuss even with a mature audience; let alone with an intellectually curious and compassionate child. The silence can be deafening and it reinforces a cultural message that says, "suicide is a deep, dark, unspoken topic,” Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho wrote on the U.S. Army website. “Championing the discussion in the manner the Murray family did is a lesson for all of us.”
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.