At the age of 47 the accumulation of a series of tragic events had left me spiritually and mentally broken. I felt that my family would be better off without me, and I had a plan to end my life. But the Lord had another plan.
While touring the USS YORKTOWN in Charleston with my Air Force son, he asked me if I was having thoughts of suicide. After listening to my broken heart, he then asked if I remembered the first verse of the 46th Psalm. It was a chapter that I had each of my four boys memorize as children. Before I spoke the Word, the Word of God was speaking to me. “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in time of trouble.”
My son’s question saved my life, and the Spirit of God restored my hope that day. A year later in 2012 we founded Armed Forces Mission and the Intervene Challenge to train others in the skills that save lives. I published a book called Listen Learn Lead which has become the primary curriculum of the Intervene Challenge and the model that I have used for the past ten years to train 24,000 caring individuals to intervene for those at risk of suicide. It is the same model that I have personally used to conduct more than 2,000 suicide interventions in both military and civilian communities.
There was a time when I thought I was beyond hope. But I realize today that HOPE was never beyond me.
A Rally Cry to the Faith Community
to be the Beacon of Hope
Guiding Others to Safe Harbor
1 Reason 2 Live
Turning the Tide on Suicide has been the rally cry of The Intervene Challenge since 2012. Yet two facts have been a gnawing reality that I have wrestled with for several years. The first is the truth that the tide never really turns. It always returns, in the same way that the tide rises on all shores worldwide every 12 hours.
The second gnawing reality is that the majority of the 24,000 individuals that have taken the Intervene Challenge come from organizations other than the faith community. While I am grateful for every participant, my greatest desire is to see the faith community equipped with the skills that save lives. Imagine thousands of believers ready, willing, and able to help those who have lost hope.
We have all witnessed a rapid change in our world. The tidal wave of hopelessness is increasing along with the risk of suicide. In my lifetime I have never sensed a greater urgency for the equipping of the church.
1 Reason 2 Live is the same training that thousands of individuals have participated in through the Intervene Challenge utilzing the same Listen Learn Lead model of intervention while also addressing the discussion of faith in Christ as a vital source that offers incredible power to retore hope and the will to live.
In Acts 16 Paul called out to the jailer who was about to take his own life, “Don’t harm yourself we are all here.” Paul didn’t run and hide. He was operating with urgency to save a life while equipping others to do the same. Together they became the light for those at risk.
1 Reason 2 Live is a rally cry to the faith community to be the beacon of hope guiding others to safe harbor.
“You are the light of the world.
A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
1 Reason 2 Live is tailored to meet the needs of the faith community
My dream is that one day a boy will ask his father, “Dad what was suicide?"
In 2018, Chaplain (LTC) Lou Koon, D.Min was inducted into the University of North Georgia Alumni Hall of Fame for his work in conducting more than 2,000 successful suicide interventions in both military and civilian communities. Lou is the author of Listen Learn Lead, the primary curriculum in the Intervene Challenge. More than 24,000 individuals have taken the Challenge to gain the skills that save lives in training events nationwide. Clients served include US Army, US Air Force, Homeland Security, NSA, Hospitals, Universities, Boards of Education, faith, and civic groups.
Lou served on the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health Strategic Committee in the drafting of the 2020-2025 State Suicide Prevention Plan and as project liaison for Behavioral Health Link and the Georgia Crisis and Access Line in development of community initiatives.
Lou holds a Master of Divinity in Education and a Doctorate in Pastoral Counseling and completed Clinical Pastoral Education at Georgia Baptist and Piedmont Hospital. He is a member of the Georgia Chiefs of Police Association, NAMI, International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association.
He and his wife, Sherry have four grown sons, five grandchildren, and make their home in Sharpsburg, Georgia.
I would be remiss as a Chaplain and as a person of faith in Jesus Christ if I did not share of the power of God to transform the mind. Rarely considered in a world of freethinkers, the ancient text we call the Bible is an incredible resouce that offers hope and healing for those that thought all hope was gone. The typical approach to mental health is to begin with the mind. The spiritual discussion is often omitted. Yet when applied skillfully and with great compassion the Word of God has transforming power to renew hope and bring healing to the mind. I have experienced this power and have witnessed the same in countless others. We must consider the spiritual component. It is after all, a place where millions throughout history have found one reason to live.
Message to my home church one month after 10 days in hospital from COIVD.
The Power of Prayer
Call to Action for the Church to Reach Veterans