Mental health and suicide prevention in the Midlands

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – Conversations about suicide prevention and mental health are being had since the passing of former Miss USA and EXTRA correspondent

who had ties to Columbia.  The former USC student athlete died by apparent suicide over the weekend.  USC tweeting, “Please keep the Kryst family in your thoughts and prayers. Please remember, you’re not alone. help is available.”

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health says new data released just days ago shows an increase for lives lost, more than 860 South Carolinians died by suicide in 2020.

“The majority of those who are dying by suicide really weren’t in-touch with a mental health provider at the time of their death. So who are they interacting with? They’re interacting with their family, with their friends, with their church members, with their neighbors, and their employees,” said Jennifer Butler with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.

Butler is reminding people of the resources available. She says people can text the crisis helpline by texting HOPE4SC to 741-741. She adds you can also visit to get funding for the help you need. Butler says there’s a reason ‘hope’ is in the title of these programs. “Hope lives here in South Carolina but only when we have these conversations, only when we share these resources resources.”

Brookland Baptist Church and the Brookland Foundation is looking to educate the community on mental health and suicide prevention. Leaders with the church say they have received many calls from people struggling with suicide. 

“People are hurting and we are not even aware of their hurt until something happens. So we want to work in the preventive measure,” says Reverend Betty Brown with Brookland Baptist Church.

Be the Lifeline summit will be held on March 26,2022. The community can register on the Brookland Foundation website.

“We will provide attendees with training and they will have an opportunity to work with our sister organizations to become certified first aid and learn how to recognize the signs of mental health crisis,” said Kristopher Jones who is the Director of the Brookland Foundation.

Butler says community participation like this is vital. According to S.C. Department of Mental health, recent data shows there is an increase in EMS calls and ER visits for suicide and mental health. Butler says that means theres a higher level of distress. “When people knew there was a resource there, they used it.”

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