Local veteran fighting suicide in unique way

Posted at 8:20 PM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 23:20:58-04

A local veteran spent 24 hours running up and down Cowles Mountain in an effort to fight veteran suicide.

"Your hear these statistics," Marine veteran, Jeremey Katopol, said. "It's way too high."

He was talking about the estimated 22 veterans a day who kill themselves.

"It's not happening because they're broken," he explained. "It's not happening because of failure of the system or anything like that."

He said it is because when they get out of the service, that sense of brotherhood slips away.

"I've lost a couple friends to suicide," he said. "I've lost a couple to drunk driving, self medication, OD."

It is part of why he decided to run around the clock to raise awareness about veteran suicide. He also wanted to let vets know about groups like Team Red, White and Blue and Irreverent Warriors, which offer support to vets.

His group of runners started to grow with veterans like William Frisbie.

"Sometimes it's hard to ask for help," Frisbie explained.

Frisbie also knows what it is like to have friends survive bombs and bullets only to die by their own hand.   

"They come home and they're still fighting a war with themselves," Frisbie said. "It kind of just drops your heart."

Frisbie is working on opening up, but it is not easy. He was in the company of people who get where he is coming from though.

Katopol did not realize how big the problem was.

"All of the sudden it gets real when you have dozens of people reaching out to you say," he said, but stopped and hung his head. "Talking about how it's been happening over the last couple of weeks or month, or things like that. It just really hits home when that happens."

After Katopol got out, his marriage fell apart and his world followed. He got drunk and timed the train for the right time to step on the tracks.

"I had a couple of buddies who were looking out for me though," Katopol added. "They kept me around."
Now he is stepping up to keep others from becoming one of the 22. 

He ran through the rainstorm and completed 17 laps of Cowles Mountain.