22 Pushup Challenge: Raising Awareness for Veteran Suicide

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Vivian Ma

Jessica Wang ’18 initially learned about the 22 Pushup challenge through her friends on social media.

If you’ve been on the internet at all recently, then you have seen the videos of teenagers and celebrities doing push ups with the hashtag #22Kill or #22PushupChallenge. As the name suggests, the participants of this challenge must film themselves doing twenty-two pushups every day for twenty-two days, uploading it onto online platforms such as Facebook or Instagram with these hashtags, and then tagging a new person everyday to do the same. This Internet trend has garnered a lot of attention beginning in the summer and fall of last year and continuing on to today, particularly from teenagers.

Similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge back in 2014, which raised awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the 22 Pushup Challenge was started in order to raise awareness for veteran suicide. The Department of Veteran Affairs’ 2012 Suicide Data Report stated that every day, twenty-two veterans in the United States commit suicide. This challenge was started in 2011 by the “Honor Courage Commitment” organization, but it only gained attention this year after celebrities such as Chris Pratt and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson did it. After this, many high schoolers started to upload videos of themselves on social media.

This trend has become so popular that students at our school have been actively taking part in the challenge. Allen Iskin ’18, completed the challenge up to Day seventeen after being tagged by his close friend who attends Stuyvesant High School. Instead of just posting videos of him doing pushups in his bedroom as many people do, he changed the location each day; for instance, on Day twelve, he went to the park. He also used different pushup techniques, such as clap pushups and diamond pushups. For one particular video, he had an Advanced Placement U.S. History test the next day, and he turned a page of his textbook for every push up that he completed. However, he does not think that this challenge will raise as much awareness for veteran suicide as it should. “I think it was more of an internet trend, like the Ice Bucket Challenge. People just do it for fun,” Iskin ’18 said.

This trend has become so popular that students at our school have been actively taking part in the challenge.

Other Bronx Science students have been participating in this challenge as well. Jessica Wang ’18 initially learned about the challenge through her friends on social media, including Iskin. Unlike Iskin, who does not think this will raise much awareness for veteran suicide, she thinks that participating in the challenge actually did help the cause. “Celebrities and regular citizens have been donating to the organization because of the 22 Pushup Challenge. I think that this really did raise awareness for the problem in an enjoyable way,” Wang ’18 said.

Like previous challenges, it is debatable whether the 22 Pushup Challenge brings serious problems to light. Many people view this challenge as attention-seeking and do not think that the participants truly want to help the cause, but others say that without the challenge, people would not be aware of the high suicide rate amongst our veterans. Recent research released by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that the number has dropped from twenty-two veteran suicides a day to twenty a day. Despite the contrasting opinions regarding the 22 Pushup Challenge, the rate of veteran suicide is decreasing, so maybe the challenge really did play a part in helping raise awareness for this important cause.

Vivian Ma
Allen Iskin ’18, completed the challenge up to Day seventeen after being tagged by his close friend who attends Stuyvesant High School.
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