FORT JACKSON, SC. (Sept. 17, 2014) -- Every 40 seconds, someone in the world commits suicide. Every 41 seconds, a loved one is left to deal with the aftermath.
Helen Pridgen is one of those left, and she is spreading the message to others.
"The right person at the right place and the right time can save a life. It is important that we all learn the warning signs of suicide and how to respond to someone who may be at risk, to be present to them."
Helen addressed Soldiers and Civilians in the 81st Regional Support Command (RSC) September 17 at their auditorium as part of her work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Pridgen, a social worker, shared her own experience as a survivor. September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in the Army and the event was part of the RSC's annual observance.
Helen's 25-year-old son Clay took his own life in 2000. Clay was by most accounts, a very happy and positive person, but he succumbed to deep-seeded symptoms of depression.
Every 15 minutes, somebody takes their own life in the United States, accounting for 39,000 people annually. Pridgen is determined to reduce this number. She speaks to groups in the Southeastern United States with the hope others won't have to experience the same pain that she went through.
The AFSP organizes a series of Out of the Darkness Community Walks. These walks honor loved ones, and raise awareness and funds for research and advocacy. They are also designed eradicate the stigma of suicide.
Pridgen said there is a stigma attached to depression and other mental health issues and efforts to prevent suicide brings those to the forefront. AFSP works with the military and community organizations to break down those barriers in order to save lives.
A team from the 81st will participate in the October 26 Out of the Darkness Walk in Columbia, South Carolina. The RSC is hosting several events during September in observance of Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.
Helen said she is thankful for prevention efforts by Fort Jackson and the 81st in reducing suicide.
"I'm honored to be here and thankful for the invitation. I feel like it's all of working together that can make a difference. Our organization has the goal of reducing the suicide rate by 20% by the 2025 and it's going to take everyone working together. "
For more information and resources, visit www.afsp.org. People in need of immediate assistance can call (800) 273-TALK.