Suicide prevented. Army Veteran thanks Dublin VA nurses and police

“You guys saved my life”


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When Emergency Department nurse practitioner Kristin Horton logged in on April 24, she found a message from Ashton Ridings, a former U.S. Army Ranger, who required emergency intervention on April 17.

The first line of the letter read, “You guys saved my life.”

“My night terrors left me with three or four sleepless nights and knew I needed help now,” Ridings said. “I was overwhelmed, my PTSD hit me hard and this time I couldn’t run or work it off. I felt like suicide was my only option, so I planned it out step-by-step.”

Ridings made up his mind that he was going to die by suicide if he couldn’t find help immediately. He called the Veterans Crisis Line and then the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center. Ridings thought enrolling into a PTSD program at the medical center would be a step in the right direction.

The Veterans Crisis Line contacted the Dublin VAMC Emergency Department informing the staff that Ridings, who was suffering from severe PTSD, would be coming in some time that day.

“As soon as I walked into Dublin VA, I was immediately admitted to Urgent Care where I was treated by a nurse practitioner,” Ridings said. “She knew that I needed help, was determined to provide whatever care I required, and that I couldn’t leave the medical center.”

Horton and Dublin VAMC Urgent Care Nurse Adrienne Warnock, RN, treated Ridings during his stay at Dublin VAMC.

“I’ve been in the medical field for a decade, a provider for almost four years, and this was the most heart-wrenching case I’ve experienced,” Horton said. “My heart felt so heavy for him and his wife, and I wanted to help so bad, but I didn’t feel like I was reaching him.”

Horton saw the situation escalating and decided that Ridings was going to be involuntarily admitted for his safety. When an involuntary admission is ordered, VA police are notified. Moments later, Sergeant Lang, and officers Malone, Campbell, and Howard arrived at the emergency department. Typically, the presence of law enforcement would aggravate a volatile situation, but that was not the case.

Two women standing together

Carl Vinson VAMC Urgent Care Nurses Kristin Horton, (left) and Adrienne Warnock

Dublin VA Police Officer and Marine Corps Veteran Mickey Malone developed a rapport with Ridings by sharing his military background.

“Most of our police officers are Veterans and that goes a long way when interacting with patients when we are called,” Malone said. “I sat with Ridings by his bed when he agreed to treatment.”

When the time came for Ridings to receive in-patient treatment, his only condition was to be escorted by Officer Malone.

“I was only too happy to help,” Malone said.

Veterans Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255

Suicide is not inevitable when someone is struggling. Recovery is possible and there is hope. If you are a Veteran in crisis or know someone in crisis, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1). That call may save someone’s life – perhaps even your own.


JW Huckfeldt is a public affairs specialist at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center, Dublin, GA

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Riski    

    Why does it happen like this? why can you decide to commit suicide? Is it because there is too much pressure?

  2. Chad Childers    

    Glad to hear that this ranger got the help he needed. I was in 2nd Ranger Battalion myself and suffer from PTSD and TBI . The struggle is real

  3. Janita Mastin    

    Great ending!

    Thank you, Ashton, for serving and I am very grateful you reached out for help and here today to share your story – God Bless you & remember you are never alone. Thank you M.H. Team…

    Former U.S.A.F. Major – Nurse

  4. Danny Lee Warner    

    I’m having a really hard time these past months and having thoughts of harming myself. I read the message today in VA. Oaks news. I. Did contact my VA Psychiatrist and got an appt for 10 July at 1030am but they cancelled it and said the Dr didn’t come in till 11:00 and tried to give me a new appt for late in Aug Aug. I had asked to have refills added. I’m 100 percent disabled suffer from PTSD, Abdominal bleeding, had 2 gastric surgeries, chronic back pain for yes , hospitalized for 2 pneumonia’s. It seems that the Drs are really busy and when you see them they aren’t able to spend much time. I have a great Primary, she’s a Nurse Practioner and does here best

  5. Pamela Griffin    

    Thank God he reached out for help. My husband was a Marine and he held everything in from when he was at war. He was lucky he didn’t have PTSD. He died of cancer last July from the contaminated water at Camp Lejune. I miss him so much I lost my husband and best friend. His memorial headstone is at Biloxi Veterans Cemetery.The VA has been very good to me. So please if you think suicide is your only option call someone because tomorrow might just be the best day of your life. My heart and prayers are with all Veterans, please don’t kill yourselves there are a million reasons to live. You’ve already been through the hardest part, now it’s just going to get better. Hang in there we’re all rooting for you and more people care about you than you think. Pam

  6. Jacqueline Burow    

    It’s so nice to read about a positive outcome after the serious challenges Ridings faced. I read, so often, about delays and bureaucracy interfering with the care that people need when they finally find the strength to seek help. It is also great to hear about caring individuals like officer Malone taking a genuine interest in this fragile community.

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