COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Stress and anxiety can be a part of everyday life for people of all ages, but preventing those feelings from going too far can be a challenge for many.
It’s why during National Suicide Prevention Month, one woman continues to share her story of survival and her mission to help others.
“I told her she could have my shoes and I hung up,” recalls Fonda Bryant.
It was Valentine’s Day in 1995 and she was talking to her aunt on the phone.
“She called me back and she asked me, she said, ‘Are you going to kill yourself?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ And she went into action like a superhero,” Bryant remembers.
She didn’t know it at the time, but Bryant was battling clinical depression.
“My appearance changed, I was withdrawing, I wasn’t eating, and it affected my work,” Bryant admits.
Her aunt had Bryant involuntarily committed that day.
Now, more than 25-years later, Bryant is still here to dedicate her life to helping prevent others from taking theirs.
“The pain that is left is horrendous. But the questions will linger for the rest of your life,” says Bryant, who has had to reflect on if she could have done more herself.
Just six weeks ago, her son’s best friend took his own life.
“I just started screaming, and I had to pull over and I sat there for four hours,” Bryant adds.
Bryant was named the 2021 Nexstar Remarkable Woman of the Year for her work in mental health and suicide prevention.
Which is why she is equipping individuals with tools through a program called QPR — question, persuade, refer.
“You’re a certified gatekeeper, which means you have the tools, you have the education. You can save someone’s life,” encourages Bryant.
While the program helps gatekeepers recognize the signs and know when to get help, for Bryant, the most important tool is one we all already have.
“Care. Check on people. Ask people how they’re doing, if they’re okay, and mean it. That’s the best way to save someone’s life,” Bryant pushes.
Daily, 2,000 people commit suicide worldwide, with a suicide attempt occurring every 40 seconds.
For young people, it’s the second leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 34.
If you or someone you know is struggling, or thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.