Is five minutes really too much to ask when someone’s life could be at stake?
That is the question Charles Van Luyn is putting to the community with the 5+5+5 challenge to help reduce the number of suicides. During a bad time, Van Luyn was suddenly hit with the realization of what a difference five minutes can made to someone in crisis.
The new patch and stickers that he will unveil Saturday at Hy-Vee are also a promise. The wearer accepts the responsibility to take five minutes, five times a month, to reach out to five people who may be in crisis.
“In the military, people are taught not to ask for help and to just suck it up,” Van Luyn said. “This can keep them from asking for help when they need it. We are asking people to just take five minute — the time you spend waiting for commercials to end when you are watching TV — and just call a friend who may need help. No one can say to me they don’t know five people they can call.”
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The 5+5+5 challenge is being done by Van Luyn’s charity, Iowa Anchor of Hope. In the past he has done such things as deliver supplies to Marion after the derecho and aid other disaster victims. Recently the charity has refocused into providing canines for people in need.
While the thought originally started with concern for veteran suicides, Van Luyn expanded the scope to include first responders and even young people who may be going through a hard time. He hopes someone spending five minutes letting the person know they are important will lower the suicide rate.
Proceeds from the patch and sticker sales are also going to mitigate suicide. Funds will be used to train service dogs to donate to military veterans in need of a companion. The dogs will be specifically trained to aid the veteran in the event of crisis, such as pulling them out of a crowd if it senses its master having a panic attack.
On Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Van Luyn and associates will sit in front of Hy-Vee at 2400 Second Avenue in Muscatine to raise funds for Anchor of Hope to purchase service dogs.
“We’re going to be doing preorders for our hats and T-shirts and we are going to be selling stickers and patches and we are going to be talking about our goals with the public so they know what we are trying to do,” Van Luyn said. “The goal is to spread the word and get the community involved in helping us to reduce veteran suicide in our community in every field. That is what I’m passionate about — having had friends and family I have lost to it. That’s what our charity is about.”
People interested in learning more about the program can go online to https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100091434657285.
Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can contact the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.