COLUMBIA, SC, UNITED STATES
Story by Spc. Chelsea Baker
The South Carolina National Guard Suicide Prevention Program held their annual Suicide Prevention Month 5k run/walk, where Soldiers and civilians gathered at the Gamecock Park in Columbia, South Carolina to bring awareness to suicide.
“The Suicide Prevention Team connects Soldiers with resources, showing them that there are people out there who care and people they can talk to,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Allen, Suicide Prevention Manager for the South Carolina National Guard Suicide Prevention Program.
Studies have shown that 22 veterans die every day from suicide. Since 2008, the South Carolina National Guard has lost 26 Soldiers due to suicide. The SCNG Suicide Prevention Program has spent several years to develop training and new resources to help lower the number of suicides.
Additionally, South Carolina National Guard offers programs for unemployment, financial help and health management. These programs help Soldiers and their families become stronger and more resilient.
“I have a huge passion to help people. Whether that is to train someone who can help an individual or myself helping them directly. It’s really rewarding to be that person who helped someone through a difficult situation,” said Lisa Charnock, Suicide Prevention Manager for the South Carolina National Guard Suicide Prevention Program.
South Carolina leads the nation in the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) personnel. Many larger states don’t have a high number of personnel who are trained in suicide prevention. ASIST training allows Soldiers to be better prepared if they encounter a situation where their peers need help.
“What I like about this program is that people come to the course with different levels of suicide experiences in their life. I have never had someone leave the course without feeling more comfortable to have a conversation with someone who is at risk and to help and intervene,” said Allen.
With training and education, everyone can help lower the number of suicides. Knowing the warning signs and seeking help can make a difference. If you or someone you know is having suicidal ideations contact the Suicide Prevention Program at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the South Carolina Behavioral Health Care line 800-681-2558.
“It’s really rewarding to be that person to help someone and to help save a life,” said Charnock.