A New Jersey veteran could have become another suicide statistic if not for the comfort brought to him by a service dog named Gunner.

As a U.S. Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, Officer Andrew Einstein suffered a serious brain injury from a grenade attack. Upon returning home, and to his work as a part-time cop in Camden County, the 30-year-old doubted his abilities. Einstein tells 6abc.com he was planning to end his life with an overdose of pills. That's when a friend offered a suggestion: a service dog. The next day, Gunner came into Andrew's life and changed everything.

"All of a sudden he gave me a purpose, a sense of responsibility." Einstein says. "He forced me to get better, and as the weeks and months went by, I got better and now, years later, I'm thriving."

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, suicide deaths in New Jersey have risen 19.2 percent since 1999.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

SOURCES: 6abc; Andrew Einstein/Facebook

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