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Saturday Ride Raises Awareness For Suicide Prevention

By David Howell


WATER VALLEY –The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) will host the Thunder Valley Ride to Fight Suicide in Water Valley Saturday. The poker ride starts at 11 a.m. at Hometown Pizza Café, with registration getting underway an hour earlier as participants can help raise awareness about suicide prevention and raise money to spread the message. 

AFSP state board member Pam Smith is coordinating the event with help from Greg Segroves, who will host the registration and after party in the back room at Hometown Pizza.  With 427 suicides in the state in 2017, it is the 12th leading cause of death in Mississippi. But for Smith, raising awareness is more than statistics, it is a personal mission after her life was changed forever when her son, Scott Smith, took his life on May 3, 2015. 

A Lafayette High School student, Scott was only 17 years old when he died. He was living in Harmontown with his mom. Smith has since moved to the Camp Ground community outside Water Valley as she continues to cope with her loss.

“The first year I was an insane person,” Smith said about the tragedy. But she slowly started to put her life back together. For the last two years she has served as a board member with AFSP.

“This is how I survive, I stay busy doing this. I tell people that they don’t realize that I stay busy counseling me and I stay busy,” Smith said.

Staying busy will be easy Saturday as more than 100 riders are expected to rumble Main Street.

 Registration is $20 and riders will receive a patch and their first poker card at Hometown Pizza. They will head down Hwy. 32 to the wrangler camp at Ford’s Well where they will get their second card. The third card comes at the recreation area at Enid Dam and the group will then head back to Water Valley where the fourth poker card will be dealt on the south side of Railroad Park and riders will get their final card back at Hometown Pizza. 

Smith also reminded everyone that the ride is not just for motorcycles, she also has other riders signed up to participate in vehicles. After the ride prizes will be awarded for the winning hands, both lowest and highest. The music will start around 1 p.m. at Hometown Pizza. Activities also include a 50-50 raffle and raffles for door prizes donated by many local businesses in town.

Smith also has advice for someone who may have suicidal thoughts or for a family member who thinks a loved one may be thinking about suicide.  Her first recommendation is to call 911 and seek immediate attention.  You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Smith has also trained for safeTalk (Suicide Alertness for Everyone) and makes her phone number readily available to help. You can contact Smith at  (662) 607-3703.

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