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November Hero of the Month: On a mission to prevent suicide

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DENVER -- He's a Marine Corps veteran fighting to keep veterans and others alive.  And that's why FOX31 has named Denny Ying our Problem Solvers Serving Those Who Serve "Hero of the Month" for November 2018.

Right now, Ying is in the middle of a coast-to-coast bike ride from San Francisco to Boston to raise suicide awareness.  We caught up with him a few weeks ago when he passed through Denver.

The physical struggle of riding a bike 3,800 miles is manageable for Ying, because he knows firsthand the mental struggle so many are enduring every day.

"It started off as my own personal problem. And I realized when my life fell apart how real and how raw it felt like," Ying said.

He served in the Marines from 1999 to 2007, and he's seen fellow veterans die from suicide. A few weeks ago, he lost a friend to suicide.  He's also struggled himself.  Now, everywhere he travels -- especially here in Colorado -- he sees more people suffering, too.

"It's a serious problem, specifically in Colorado. Suicide is the number-one leading cause of death among young people ages 10-14, the second leading cause of death for young people 15-44, and our mountain towns see a larger rate of suicide," said April Paige, founder of the Check-In Foundation, a Colorado-based non-profit organization that spreads suicide awareness through the cycling and sports communities.

That's why everywhere Ying stops, he starts... with a handshake and a conversation. He wants to get people talking about suicide and his personal struggle.

"It wasn't because I was back from overseas with PTSD. It was really just because I was a human that was struggling with life," Ying told FOX 31. "There are a lot of people who are struggling as well. They have nowhere to turn to, and they feel like ending their life here and now is their only option."

Ying likes talking to first responders because more firefighters and police officers die from suicide than anything that might kill them in the line of duty.  That's why he recently stopped at Denver Fire Department station 21 near Washington Park. He is truly on a mission: One man, on two wheels, hoping to start a movement.

"It has to be way bigger than I am. It has to become a movement," Ying said.

Denny is still making his way toward the East Coast.  You can follow his journey on Facebook. As of Sunday evening, he had made it to New York City.

If you're struggling with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, we have a list of resources available.  You can get help 24 hours a day by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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