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Walks Aim to Highlight Suicide Prevention


Suicide is on the rise in nearly every state (Nevada is the exception), the 10th leading cause of death both in South Carolina and nationally, and for ages 15-34, the second leading cause of death in both state and nation.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that suicide is up a distressing 38 percent in the Palmetto State.  Though it’s too early to know just why the rate is climbing so high, Helen Pridgen, South Carolina Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, listed some reasons that might suggest an explanation.  Though most people who die by suicide have mental problems, even among those who do not, circumstances such as foreclosure, job loss, extreme pain, drug addiction, depression and more can drive some to desperate actions. 

Each October and November a series of walks called “Out of the Darkness” takes place across the state to raise awareness of suicide, its causes and prevention.  After the death of her son by suicide, Vanessa Riley of Hilton Head joined a walk in Charleston and found it helped her: “I realized I wasn’t alone.”   She became involved with AFSP, serving as a board member and chair and also became state coordinator of the AFSP’s survivor outreach program.

Pridgen said the signs that a person is suicidal come in three categories:  Talk – when a person says things like he has no reason to live, he’s a burden to others, or his psychological pain is unbearable; Behavior – he could start drinking more, or buy a gun when he’s never owned one before.  He might withdraw from people, or not take pleasure in things he always enjoyed.  He might give away his possessions, or sleep too little or too much.  Mood – such as anxiety, depression, loss or interest in life, or irritability.

Pridgen did give some hope for reducing the number of suicides in the fact that 90 to 93 percent  of people who attempt suicide never succeed.  She stresses that suicide is preventable.

Here are the dates and locations of South Carolina’s “Out of the Darkness” walks:

  • Oct. 13 -  Myrtle Beach
  • Oct. 14 – Charleston and Greenville
  • Oct. 21 – Columbia
  • Nov. 3 – Walterboro
  • Nov. 4 – Aiken
  • Nov. 11 – Hilton Head


  • National Suicide Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
  • Text TALK to 741741.  There is a trained counselor at the end of that text line 24 hours a day. 
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website is afsp.org

Email Helen Pridgen at hpridgen@afsp.org