Suicide rates in the military are at an all-time high. Pentagon statistics for this year show nearly one service member a day commits suicide. Along with that staggering statistic comes a rise in awareness as Veterans Day approaches.
Trent and Lyn Watford of St. Joseph say their son, Nathan, was a quiet, intelligent person. And that they never dreamed he was capable of suicide.
"He was so creative and inventive and liked to experiment in the kitchen, too," Lyn said.
After graduating high school in 2008, Nathan joined the Navy. He spent two years training in a nuclear program.
"And he thought that might be a good career route," Trent said.
He was on his first assignment in Guam less than a week when he was reported missing.
"That was on a weekend,” Trent said. “He didn't report for duty on Tuesday, and then the next morning after I had gone to work two Navy officers came to our house to tell us that they had found him and that he hung himself in a hotel in town."
"It was not something we saw coming," Trent continued.
That was two years ago and the pain is still fresh. But looking back, they say Nathan showed signs of depression.
"Sadness, he lost interest in the things he used to like." Lyn said.
At the time, they thought it was just a normal part of adolescence. Now, they know it was something much more serious. So they've created a website, parentsaware.org, to help other parents recognize those same signs before it's too late.
"We really feel like parents need to be more aware more educated about those symptoms," Trent said.
The Watfords are helping educate others about suicide prevention as they hold on to memories of their son.
Suicide Prevention Resources:
Race to Save Lives: 5K, 10K, I-Mile Fun Run at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) in Mishawaka, IN, on November 10, 2012 -- You can register the day of the race beginning at 7 a.m. The Races will both get underway at 9 a.m. with the 1 mile Fun Run/Walk beginning shortly after.