Toby Flaget, a retired police officer and Marine Veteran, has lost seven friends to suicide in the last two months. Flaget has also struggled with suicidal thoughts, which began when he was taking medication for epilepsy. Flaget almost attempted suicide, but was able to overcome the struggle.
Now Flaget wants to raise awareness about veteran suicide and suicide in general. In order to do so, Flaget is running from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast. Starting on June 1st, he has been running 25 miles per day and estimates that it will take 122 days for him to reach the East Coast.
Flaget is working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a not-for-profit organization that aims to understand and prevent suicide. The organization does so through research, education, advocacy, and supporting people with mental illness and those who have been affected by suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention organizes walks throughout the United States in order to raise awareness and to create a conversation in communities about mental health.
Suicide claims many lives each year and can be difficult to address, which is why Flaget wants to shed light on the issue. “I don’t have all the answers,” he told KOIN News, “That’s why I’m raising awareness.”