In what promises to be the next big viral phenomenon since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge hit the internet in 2014, celebrities and athletes have started posting videos of themselves fulfilling the 22 Push-Up Challenge — a campaign to raise awareness on the 22 veterans that reportedly commit suicide daily, Fox News reports.
As with the Ice Bucket Challenge, those participating give a brief introduction to the task, perform the 22 push ups, nominate others to do the same then post the video on social media using the hashtag #22PushUpChallenge, where it creates a viral chain. But unlike the ALS challenge, this one does not ask for donations and is more of an information campaign to get the message out on the alarming rate of veteran suicide.
The advocacy #22KILL started the initiative, in which Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt and wife, actress Anna Faris have participated and posted on social media platform Instagram, with the message, “Please know there are people out there thinking about you, praying for you and who appreciate your sacrifice.”
Marvel’s Captain America star Chris Evans, wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Olympic gold medalists Simone Manuel and Ryan Murphy were among those who took on the 22 Push-Up Challenge.
The number 22 comes from a report from the Department of Veteran Affairs in 2012 that examined death certificates in 21 states from 1999 to 2011 and concluded that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
Researchers said their numbers were significant statistically, but warned that the estimate might not be an accurate representation of annual statistics because the study had limitations such as the “existing evidence of uncertainty in veteran identifiers on U.S. death certificates.”
The VA released an updated report that put the number of daily veteran suicides at 20. According to this report, veterans are 21% more likely to take their lives than civilians. In 2014, around 7,400 veterans killed themselves.
But as VA undersecretary for health David Shulkin pointed out, “One veteran suicide is one too many.”