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Walking to the light

Colleton residents and business owners who walked on Saturday to fight suicide happening in the county surpassed a financial goal, and created a standard for future walks and awareness campaigns.

“If my pain and taking a step forward, an actual step, can keep one family from going through this, then it’s worth it,” said Kim Crouse, organizer of Saturday’s event. She is a survivor of suicide that occurred within her family. “People coming out on Saturday, and getting involved, it meant people are concerned. That’s how change starts. And I want this to be the start of hope and change.”

So far, $13,600 has been raised as part of the community walk and awareness campaign. The goal was $10,000. In Saturday’s first-ever suicide-prevention walk in Colleton County, 197 people participated. There were 26 official walking teams.

To date, there have been 15 reported and completed suicides in Colleton County this year.

In 2017, there were five reported suicides in Colleton County.

Officials with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office and with mental health professionals at Colleton Medical Center are working together to raise awareness about suicide in the community. There are no confirmed reasons for the increase in the number of suicides in Colleton, but Crouse says she wants to stop the stigma associated with talking about being suicidal.

‘Suicide is never anything that I thought I would be involved in,” said Crouse. “Until it happens to you, you don’t understand the layers of it and what it entails.”

The Out of Darkness Community Walk in Colleton County is part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The walk was held on Saturday, and began at 1 p.m. at the Colleton County Farmer’s Market and Museum. The entire effort is to raise awareness, invest in new research being done to help prevent suicides and to create public advocacy groups and education programs to prevent suicide.

The money and the programming raised locally also helps suicide survivors to cope.

Crouse says locally she wants to see more support groups created. Additionally, Crouse said she also wants to see more training on suicides and suicide prevention, especially at a mental health and school level. “I want people to be able to talk about it, and to get rid of the stigma,” she said. “Let’s end the stigma. It is ok to talk about this, without being labeled or shunned.”

The top local fundraisers in Saturday’s walk are: Kelly Strickland, who raised the most at $1,375.00; Pam Roberts, Terry Lynn Carter, Kim Crouse and Crystal Adams.

The top earning teams for the walk are: Fitness with Erin Padgett, who raised the most for a team with $1,955, followed by The Hogbranch Defenders “Here for Life,” who raised $1,345; Hope for Tomorrow ($1,100); The Blue Butterflies ($885); and Into the Light ($750.)

The entire local walk was sponsored by multiple local businesses. Those participating businesses are Beach Electrical Service; Carroll Enterprises; Circle C Travel Plaza; Colleton Electric Cooperative; Colleton Medical Center; Colleton Chiropractic; Dorcas Tuten Attorney at Law; Edisto Realty; Geralds; Hetric, Harvin & Bonds Law Firm; J H Hiers Construction; Lowcountry Equipment; PRTC; Carolina Homes and Land Realty; Tommie’s Auto Diesel; Walterboro Ford; and the Brice Herndon Funeral Home.
Crouse says there will be a second annual walk. She plans to start planning for the event in the start of 2019.

Heather Walters (1410 Posts)