I was recently assigned by USA Today to photograph former US Army specialist Levertis Jackson, 41, at his Colorado Springs, Colorado home. As one of the more than 70 soldiers at Fort Carson enrolled in an experimental program, conducted by the National Center for Veterans Studies, Jackson began undergoing regular therapy after a suicide attempt.
The program focused on 76 soldiers at Fort Carson, teaching them stress tolerance and problem-solving skills, says Craig Bryan, a psychologist who helped lead the study.
“One of the deficits of suicidal individuals is they don’t know what to do with all of this pain and distress,” Bryan says. “They struggle with generating alternatives to their problems. And part of that is because of these faulty beliefs — it’s never going to get any better. I’m worthless. I’m incapable of solving problems.”
The soldiers learned to identify “red flags” suggestive of sinking into emotional distress — insomnia, feeling isolated or a sense of inertia.
I felt like I was losing complete control of my mind and my sanity. I just wanted out of life.” – Levertis Jackson
Levertis Jackson, a former Army specialist, is seen in his kitchen in Colorado Springs. Jackson attempted suicide, later attended a therapy program and is moving on with his life.
Jackson and his wife, Rebecca, share a quiet and snowy moment after stepping out of their home for a quick smoke.
Jackson lightly teases one of his children while modeling a pint-sized Washington Redskins T-shirt at his home.
An inspirational message is seen on the wall while Jackson plays “Call of Duty.” Playing the first person point-of-view military video game has been approved during his treatment. However, he has been instructed to turn off the game if he becomes aggravated. Jackson likes the fact that he can turn off the realistic game.
Finding a rare quiet moment between household chores, Jackson reflects through a handwritten list of all that he lives for including; wife Rebecca, his six children and the family’s dog, Santana. The list building works as daily reminders and a part of his therapy.
National Center for Veterans Studies - Learn more about the program currently underway at Fort Carson and the Center’s multiple projects.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - Learn more about the free and confidential support program.
1-800-273-8255 - Connect with a crisis councilor 24/7