‘We have to have hope’: Lowcountry mother honors son, raises awareness for suicide prevention

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in South Carolina. One mother in the Lowcountry is now trying to help others, one step at a time.

Sean Riley had his entire life ahead of him at just 21 years old when he succumbed to mental issues and committed suicide. Ever since his death, Sean’s mother, Vanessa Riley, has made it her goal to make sure no one else has to deal with the pain she felt.

Riley created the Hilton Head chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to honor Sean and to let others know that they aren’t alone. Last year, the charity’s Out of the Darkness walk raised more than $200,000 for awareness and support statewide to change the conversation about mental health.

“The fact we knew Sean needed help, we were fortunate that way,” Riley said. “Many people don’t have a cry out for help and it’s just really important that we abolish the stigma and let people feel free to ask for help, to get help.”

“We have to have hope. Hope is not cancelled. We can survive but its a lot of work, but we can do it. I’m living proof of that,” Riley added.

This year’s suicide awareness walk is set for Sunday. It will be held virtually, and donations are welcome until the end of the year.

Riley asks that participants take photos and show their support for the cause on social media. She urges anyone struggling with mental health problems to ask for help before it’s too late.

To register for the Out of the Darkness walk and to donate, CLICK HERE.

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