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Kevin Howard met Taylor Hudson in eastern Syria. The pair each joined U.S.-allied militias to fight the Islamic State in 2016 and soon began working as a team: Howard as a sniper; Hudson, his lookout.  http://ow.ly/SQAH30oYryg 

In time, both men soured on the militia. They returned home after harrowing months detained by their own militia. Years would pass before they reunited.  https://lat.ms/2IubV6R 

As a civilian, Howard floundered in the U.S., stripped of his gun, his unit and his cause. He told friends he missed Syria. Hudson understood how Howard felt.  https://lat.ms/2IubV6R 

During all of this, Howard admitted he contemplated suicide. So the two friends made a pact: If one decided to kill himself, he would call the other first.

But Howard did not honor the pact he’d made with Hudson. He climbed Sentinel Peak at sunset with his 12-gauge shotgun.

In the aftermath, Howard’s friend Hudson couldn’t lift his depression. He had trouble talking; went days without sleeping. Hudson took a friend’s gun and posted a suicide note on Facebook, just as Howard had.  https://lat.ms/2IubV6R 

This time, there would be no gunshots. Hudson surrendered. Mainly, he said later, he decided to live because of others. “There’s so many people falling through the cracks,” Hudson said a few days later. “I feel fortunate.”  https://lat.ms/2IubV6R 

Hudson plans to attend Howard’s memorial in San Francisco next month. Until then, friends are still calling daily to check on him. Read more from @mollyhf:  https://lat.ms/2IubV6R 

If you or someone you know is exhibiting warning signs of suicide, seek help from a professional and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

These organizations provide support, information & resources to veterans and others  https://www.latimes.com/columnone/la-na-col1-suicide-prevention-resources-20190620-story.html 

You can follow @latimes.


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