Bringing light to suicide prevention in S.C.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and it's a time to bring the health problem to light.


Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and it’s a time to bring the health problem to light. Suicide can be prevented, yet continues to be a leading cause of death in the United States.

On average, 129 Americans died by suicide each day in 2017. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control. In that same year, 1.4 million Americans attempted it.

In South Carolina, it’s one of the leading causes of death for the younger generation, and the state is ranked 26th nationwide in suicide death rates.

“I lost a family member. My son died in December of 2000. And after his death, I started learning as much as I could,” said Helen Pridgen, S.C. Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Everyone knows someone who’s been affected by suicide. In S.C., it’s the 10th leading cause of death.

“For ages 15 to 34, it’s the second leading cause. And for 35-54 it’s the fourth leading cause,” said Pridgen. 

“South Carolina’s made a commitment to zero suicide. That we are going to work together, every single type of system, to make sure that we’re saving the South Carolina residents,” said Jennifer Butler, the Interim Director for the Office of Suicide Prevention with the Department of Mental Health.

The state recently implemented a new strategy for suicide prevention.

“To develop a very extensive plan that talks about language, talks about numbers, talks about resources, finding hope,” said Butler.

Working with a hope of breaking the stigma around asking for help.

“So the more we talk about this, the more that people will be able to feel safe reaching out,” said Butler.

“We need to help people understand that reaching out for help, and getting the help you need and deserve is a strength. It’s part of your self-care, your survival,” said Pridgen.

The simple gesture of reaching out to someone who may be struggling could save a life.

“We need you here. We need the skills and the life you bring to all of us. We don’t need your death, we need your life,” said Pridgen.

In October, the Department of Mental Health will be launching an online screener where you can find out if you or a loved one may be at risk depending on your answers. It’s not a diagnostic tool but is intended to help educate people.

Also in October, a Walk to End Suicide will be held here in Columbia and statewide. You can find more information and register by clicking here.

If you are struggling with depression or are having suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-TALK (8255) or text ‘TALK’ to 741741. If you think you might do something immediately, call 911.

Categories: Local News, News, State