Local pastor aims to help bring down the army's suicide rate with a 112' cross

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LEESVILLE, La. (KALB) - The next time motorists pass by Fort Polk, they will notice a new addition near the post. A local pastor says he's hoping it will be a symbol of hope.

Christian Living Fellowship purchased a 112' cross for $120,000, in hopes that it will help combat the army's increasing suicide rate. | Source: AO FILMS

"I was preaching, and I felt like God really spoke to our hearts about being in a location, where people are looking for hope," Bobby Ganaway, the pastor of Christian Living Fellowship said. "This community has a lot of people hurting looking for hope."

Christian Living Fellowship received the $120,000 cross, which they call a lifesaver that no one can put a price tag on.

"If we spent a million dollars and it changed one person's life... if it was your life, wouldn't it be worth it all?" Pastor Ganaway said.

Pastor Ganaway purchased the cross after seeing an increase in the number of service members committing suicide.

In 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), 541 service members committed suicide, and over the past five years, the suicide rate has gone up for service members on active-duty orders. MILITARY SUICIDE DATA

In DOD's annual suicide report, active-duty soldiers finished with the second-highest suicide rate, only following behind the Marines.

The army's suicide rate is 29.5 for every 100,000 service members.

"I had the opportunity to see it first hand with somebody in the church," Pastor Ganaway said.

Pastor Ganaway said it's one of the many reasons why she wants to put an end to the epidemic.

"If they are ever contemplating something like suicide, and they literally pass this cross, which is very visual from the highway...[and] we hope they see the cross, and the cross reminds them, there's hope beyond what they think they have," Pastor Ganaway explained.

Pastor Ganaway also said he hopes to grow his idea, and more churches get involved. Ganaway mentioned, that maybe even one day they'll have an emergency hotline for people dealing with a crisis right at their giant cross.

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