Sep. 8—Hope, yoga and everyone playing a part was the message discussed Thursday during a Suicide Prevention Summit.
The Aiken-Barnwell Suicide Prevention Coalition held the summit with the theme of "Burnout to Resiliency."
Speakers at the event included Jessica Barnes from the S.C. Department of Mental Health and Sarah Accord from Aiken Yoga.
The event also provided information on mental health agencies and other resources available to the community.
Barnes said one way to help prevent a suicide is checking in to make sure someone is OK.
"Everyone has role in suicide prevention," she said.
In 2020, 868 people died by suicide in South Carolina and 53% of those deaths were by a firearm.
Nationally, using 2020 data, men were more likely to commit suicide than women, and white males account for 69.68% of suicides, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Accord, who worked as a nurse for 20 years and now works as a yoga instructor, teaches yoga skills that can help anyone dealing with a mental health issue.
During the event, Accord demonstrated to the crowd some breathing exercises and would repeat the words, "I matter."
Accord said if someone is dealing with burnout, they should change up their routine and have a day for self-care.
Barnes said there is concern with adolescents attempting suicide or dying by suicide.
Youth are more likely to call or text for help using a call center number.
"There is a need for suicide prevention, especially for adolescents," Barnes said.
Barnes said there is hope because of the resources in the community.
She said with the introduction of 988, calls have increased by 50%, which includes texts through the crisis line, an interactive screening program and people reaching out for help.
Bonnie Fulghum, the executive director of Mental Health America of Aiken County, said suicide has been increasing in the area since the start of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
After Anderson County, Aiken County had the second-highest rate of suicides based on 2020 data.
"There is nothing like being on the other end of a call and the person says, I have a gun, I have the bullets and you have 50 seconds to tell me why I should not kill myself," she said.
Fulghum said with the community's help, the number of suicides can decrease.
"I hope you open your mind to the statistics because they are very sobering and very powerful," she said. "We can ... (work) to hopefully prevent people from being desperate and helpless."
* Aiken County Help Line 211
Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center (ABMHC) 803-641-7700
Mental Health America of South Carolina (MHASC) Phone: 803-779-5363 and mhasc.org