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Colleton Medical Center Host 2nd Annual Suicide Prevention Summit

Mindy Corbett, Sherri Walker, Kelly Hilinski, Mark Hilinski, Heather Simmons
and Ashley Phelps.

Suicide prevention is a big focus in the Colleton County community, and last week, Colleton’s hospital system worked with area schools to spread a message of hope and prevention.
On September 12th at 6:00 pm, Colleton Medical Center hosted its second annual Suicide Prevention Summit at the Colleton County High School Performing Arts Center. The event was a collaborative partnership with Colleton Medical Center and local community groups, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of the Lowcountry, Coastal Empire Mental Health Center, Mental Health American, Walterboro Police Department, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Hilinski’s Hope Foundation.
According to officials with Colleton Medical Center, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and South Carolina. Numbers in Colleton County spiked in the last year, these numbers are still being tallied by local officials with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office.
Last week’s event was an opportunity to raise awareness and educate the community about Suicide Prevention and help to Erase the Stigma of Mental Health.
The program opened with introductions by Melissa Camp, director of Behavioral Health at Colleton Medical Center and Angie Salley, area coordinator at Coastal Empire Community Mental Health Center Walterboro Clinic. Jean Ann Lambert, Community Resource Director of Mental Health America, lead a discussion on “Recognizing Warning Signs of Suicide.” Warning Signs may include someone threatening, talking about, or looking for ways to hurt or kill themselves, writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary. Warning signs may also include anxiety, anger, recklessness, mood changes, withdrawal and feeling of hopelessness, feeling trapped or purposelessness.

Personal stories were shared by Abby Corbett to help shine a light on the importance of prevention. Featured speakers were Kelly and Mark Hilinski from the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation, The Hilinski’s Hope Foundation (H3H) was founded in 2018 by Mark and Kym Hilinski to honor the life of their son Tyler, who died by suicide on January 16, 2018. H3H is a non-profit foundation created with the goal of keeping Tyler’s memory alive and generating the funding necessary to support programs that will help destigmatize mental illness. At the time of Tyler’s passing he was a longtime student-athlete and quarterback at Washington State University. Tyler will best be remembered for his play in the Boise State game where he threw the game-winning touchdown after he was put into the game in the 4th quarter with less than 10 minutes to play. His suicide happened only a few months after the game where he was celebrated as the “Comeback Kid” for the assist in winning the game 31-10 in triple overtime. On the day he passed he went to football practice at 7 am but failed to show up for the team’s afternoon weightlifting session. His death was a shock to those around him, including his teammates, family and friends. Tyler never showed any signs of depression or struggle. The 3 in H3H was Tyler’s jersey number at Washington State University and has come to play an integral part in Hilinski’s Hope Foundation.
Tyler’s family shared that he always believed in happy endings and that good was around every corner, but Tyler couldn’t endure the pain he must have been suffering. Tyler had Stage 1 Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE, a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. Most documented cases of CTE have occurred in athletes involved in contact sports such as football, boxing, hockey, and pro wrestling. Symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. Symptoms typically do not begin until years after the injuries. CTE often gets worse over time and can result in early-onset dementia and increase risk of suicide ideation.
H3H has made long strides in helping student-athletes along their journey to support their mental wellness and the challenges they face. H3H promotes awareness and education of mental health and wellness for student-athletes through events such as the one put on by Colleton Medical Center. The Foundation’s mission is to educate, advocate, and remove the stigma associated with mental illness, while funding programs that provide student-athletes with the tools and resources that support their mental health and wellness. For more information on the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation visit https://hilinskishope.org/

Cokeitha Gaddist (98 Posts)