Local teen lends his voice to raise awareness of veteran suicide

The statistics are grim. Seventeen veterans commit suicide every day in our country. White men are at highest risk for suicide, followed by Hispanic veterans, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

A Clay County teenager uses her voice to raise awareness about mental health crisis and post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.

Emma Gutierrez, 16, has been singing ever since, “as long as I could speak,” she said. It is his lifelong dream of becoming a country music star. When the director of a short film about the suicide of a veteran contacted her mother to ask her to sing the theme song for the film, she didn’t hesitate.

“I thought about what these veterans were going through and how I could help them through song,” she said.

Gutierrez’s father served in the military. Although he did not suffer from PTSD, she was moved by the portrayal of the short of veterans trying to get home from the fight and the struggle they endured to acclimate to a life ” normal ”.

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Gutierrez co-wrote the theme song called “A Place to Fall” for the short film “We Got Your Six”.

The film tells the story of four veterans who return from combat and undergo therapy. The sessions are conducted virtually, which compounds the problem of getting the four to share their stories with the mental health counselor who leads the group session.

The director, who also stars as one of the film’s veterans, is a veteran himself. Danny Zanelotti said he also lost several military colleagues to suicide. Two of them committed suicide weeks apart earlier this year. This is the reason why he was so attached to the making of the short film.

He received the Founders Circle Award at the Louisiana Film Prize festival last month. (Click here to watch ‘We Got Your Six)

Gutierrez said part of the movie upset her so much that she struggled to record the song the first time around without crying.

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“The part where one of the veterans is about how she helped a little girl who was burnt and had to let the little girl go back to the field. It hurt so much, ”said the 16-year-old.

Gutierrez refers to a scene in the film where an actress playing the role of a combat veterinarian stationed in Afghanistan described a little girl who came to the military base crying in pain after a terrorist attack on a nearby market. The little girl was still wearing a pink dress that had been scorched into her skin by the explosion. The veteran explained the turmoil she felt when she had to send the girl back to the war-torn country after receiving medical treatment at the base.

That guilt and pain resonated with Gutierrez and that’s why she wrote these specific lyrics in the song: the good Lord, I’ll pray, ‘Please help me find a way.’ “(Click here to listen to Gutierrez sing “A Place to Fall”)

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If you know of a struggling veteran, call the Veterans Helpline at 800-273-8255.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.

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