Survivors offer insight, encourage awareness
By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Oct. 5, 2016) — The Fort Benning Army Substance Abuse Program sponsored a presentation Sept. 29 in McGinnis-Wickam Hall to raise suicide prevention awareness.
Stephen Akinduro and veteran Phil Corbett, outreach specialists for the Columbus branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, were the guest speakers. As part of their presentation, Akinduro and Corbett often referred to their accompanying interactive video.
“During the ‘In Our Own Voices’ presentation, we tell our stories of survival and how we got to where we are right now,” said Akinduro.
“One of my biggest successes was becoming a NAMI facilitator,” added Corbett. “It got me talking about my problems and that was the biggest thing. It put me in a position to help others.”
Akinduro revealed that in 1993 he attempted suicide. “Before then, I really didn’t know how to describe what I was going through. There was just this constant feeling of emptiness on the inside,” he said.
According to Akinduro, it was as if someone had sucked out all of the hope that he had, leaving him just enough to survive but not enough to enjoy life. He admitted that he didn’t want anyone to know about his suicide, even going so far as to ask his friend who drove him to the hospital not to tell anyone.
“I didn’t want anyone to know I was having problems either,” added Corbett.
During his dark days, Akinduro said that he would isolate. “I didn’t want to be around people. I’d become irritable,” he added.
Corbett revealed that during his dark days he would act out self-destructively. “In my younger days, I would cut myself,” he said.
“I was dealing with a lot of anger issues with my parents separating,” Corbett added. “They divorced when I was like four and I never really got through that. It caused a lot of problems growing up.”
Akinduro was eventually diagnosed with major depression. His current diagnosis is noncombat post-traumatic stress, bipolar type 2.
Corbett was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.
A lot of Soldiers feel as though there’s no one to talk to. There’s a lot of stigma attached to reaching out for help. To talk about it means you’re weak or it’s a career ender, he said.
Corbett hopes that more Soldiers will speak out about their struggles.