Students fight against suicide


 Members of New Mount Zion A.M.E Church are honoring the memory of Torrie J. Williams on Saturday with the You Are Not Alone Suicide Awareness Walk from 8 to 10 a.m. The event will take place this on the Robert “Pete” Griffin Track at FAMU.

Suicide is not uncommon among African-American males. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the death rate for suicide in African-American men was five times higher than in women in 2009.

Erica and Carl Starling, Williams’ parents, want the event to raise awareness of suicide and other mental illnesses affecting the African-American community..

   “We know we can’t bring him back,” said Williams’ parents, “But we want to prevent someone else from going through the same thing we went through.”

The African-American community is often stigmatized with an unrealistic idea that African-Americans are too “strong” to commit suicide.

 Williams was described as a responsible adult who didn’t do drugs, maintained a full-time job and owned his own car and apartment.

He took his own life this month two years ago at the age of 21 following a series of troubling issues, including a sudden breakup from a serious relationship and the loss of a close friend.

However, initially, there were signs of an on-going internal struggle on his Facebook page according Williams’ parents.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Communication is a defining factor in its prevention.

Carl Starling said that some use suicide a permanent solution to temporary troubles. “They want to stop the pain, but when you do this, you don’t get a second chance” he said, “With suicide, there’s no do-over.”

Erica Starling, the principle of Gadsden Elementary Magnet School, does not want her son remembered as a “sad person.” She wants people to remember him as “the most humble” person who “always had a smile on his face.”  


Prevention Tips from the Parents:

“Don’t get so busy to over-look what your child is going through”-Erica Starling

“Don’t be afraid to confront them, but not in a negative way. That intervention may be the key to saving someone’s life”-Carl Starling

For extra tips on suicide prevention visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center online at

If you or someone you know is:

  • Suffering from clinical depression
  • Always thinking or talking about death
  • Participating in “risky” or life-threatening behavior
  • Losing interest in activities once cared about
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Talking about suicide or killing one’s self
  • Suddenly switch moods from being very sad to being very calm and appearing to be happy

Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) immediately.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the following risk factors for suicide:

  • History of previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • History of depression or other mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Stressful Life event or loss
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of other
  • Incarceration