Goldman Sachs energy-sector specialist Brian Kinsella, a former U.S. Army Captain, has made it his mission to combat the military veteran suicide epidemic since he left the service.
An estimated 18 to 22 veterans take their own lives every day. That’s one veteran suicide every 65 minutes. There are about 8,000 veteran suicide deaths per year. What’s more, the suicide rate amongst vets is well above the national average.
“As we bring home the last of our soldiers, we must remember that our generation will be judged by the way we take care of our troops coming home,” Kinsella told Business Insider.
Kinsella, 30, is the CEO and founder of the nonprofit organisation Stop Soldier Suicide. He cofounded the organisation in 2010 with two other vets who now work in finance — Nick Black (COO), who is the founder and CEO of Victory Social Capital, and Craig Gridelli (CFO), who is about to graduate with his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to join Miller Buckfire on the restructuring team.
While in the Army, Kinsella served with soldiers who took their own lives. He knew soldiers who had suicidal ideations and many who were struggling with mental-health issues.
“Within a few months of my first assignment, one of my own soldiers attempted to take her life. Her attempt was unsuccessful and today she is a successfully transitioned veteran, a college graduate, and a proud mother. She found the will to live and her story inspired me,” Kinsella said.
Kinsella joined Goldman Sachs last year from BNP Paribas. He spent five years in the Army after college and four years on Wall Street.
Working in finance involves 80-hour weeks, but Kinsella still manages to find time to work on Stop Soldier Suicide.
“I would say I spend every waking hour of free time on the nonprofit. What suffers the most is sleep and working out,” he said.
After leaving the office, he’ll go home and work from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Stop Soldier Suicide.
“It is definitely full time — whenever I get a chance I am working on the nonprofit,” he said.
Since its founding, Stop Soldier Suicide has created a national and community-based network of volunteers and partner organisations providing triage and alternative solutions for soldiers, veterans, and military family members.
SSS uses social media to raise awareness and create an avenue for folks who need help to reach out through private messaging. When someone reaches out, SSS not only connects that person to a mental-healthcare provider but it also asks questions to try to identify the catalyst or trigger for suicidal ideation. They also continue to do check-ins with those who have been helped.
To date, they have been able to help 581 people.
As soldiers return home, Kinsella sees a wave of suicides coming. That’s why he wants to ramp up efforts and funding for the nonprofit, but he has competition.
There are over 40,000 veteran-focused nonprofits in the country vying for funding.
Kinsella said his team has made an effort to operate a low-overhead business model so they can stay around for decades to come.
They have their headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, and have one full-time employee. Kinsella and the other cofounders don’t accept a salary. Because they work in finance, they’re diligent about how they handle money.
Right now, they can’t sustain the demand for their services, Kinsella said. They need funding to hire an executive director and set up the 24/7 operations center.
On Wednesday, May 28, they will host A Night For Life fundraiser along with a number of folks on Wall Street on board the Intrepid in Manhattan.
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