Suicide is a growing problem across the country, including the La Crosse area. Twenty people took their own lives in La Crosse County last year.

One person who has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts is a U.S. Army veteran from La Crosse.   

Donleigh Gaunky served in the U.S. Army for a total of seven years, but he says his deployment is not exactly what triggered his attempt at suicide.

Gaunky explains his first attempt at suicide happened without him giving it too much thought, but it was the two times after, when he was planning his suicide, that put things into perspective:

"None of these were related ironically enough to any of my time in service most of them were kind of the transitional period of what it's like to try to be in a world where you don't feel like you fit in anymore, to the civilian kind of things because of the things you've seen," Gaunky said.

He said it was the reason his suicidal thoughts, were easily triggered.

"When you have kind of a down day or a down week or kind of just a bad interaction with somebody, it's pretty easy to kind of go 'this isn't working, where do I go from here?' there is nothing else that kind of seems work."

But one of the things that always held him back, was his younger brother, who was killed in Iraq 11 years ago.

"I don't need to subject my brothers to another brother being dead or my parents having another son killed or dead," he said.

Behavioral health specialists say suicide, is not just a one-person-battle:

"It affects family members, teachers, employers friends, you know it isn't just a one single act, that only affects the person, so it really takes a community to help people heal and to help people access services so that they can recover," said Geri Mulliner, a nurse at Gundersen Health System and Behavioral Health.

Donleigh may still be on the road to recovery, but he says facing his realities, helped him discover something special.

"In helping other people I'm finding a way to kind of help my own self, deal with my own issues, it's strange," Gaunky said.