BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Allen Randall doesn't exactly wear his heart on his sleeve; it's tattooed on his forearm with a ribbon and a date. It's the day his son, Jessie, committed suicide.
"Suicide doesn't discriminate," said Randall. "It can affect anybody."
Randall says he had no idea his 24-year-old son was suffering, but now he's made it his mission to keep others from feeling the same pain. He joined the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help support those who are hurting and to educate others about the small conversation that may save a life.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is hosting an Out of Darkness walk to provide support survivors of suicide and raise awareness on October 20 on the grounds of Pennington Biomedical Research Facility. More information on the event can be found here.
"Don't dismiss anything that you see that's out of place for that person, don't dismiss it. Don't be afraid to ask 'are you ok?'" said Randall.
Suicide prevention specialist, Raymond Tucker, explains in the United States, there's a suicide death about every 11 minutes. It's become a national conversation following the death of fashion designer, Kate Spade. Tucker says the spotlight could help illuminate the issue that's often kept hidden.
"We see someone like Kate Spade, who anybody may see as very well off and have hundreds of reasons to live, die by suicide," said Tucker. "I think it shows that really any of us and anyone we care about could suffer from thoughts of suicide."
Tucker explains that if someone talking about committing suicide, giving away possessions, or acting recklessly, it could be a red flag that they need immediately help or an intervention. However, the signs can also be subtler, like someone feeling isolated or helpless. He says that is the time to reach out.
"Don't rely on that person to ask for help on their own," said Tucker.
There are local resources in Baton Rouge for anyone who is struggling with suicidal thought, or even just having a bad day. The Phone is a 24-hour hotline with trained counselors ready to talk. That number is 225-924-3900.