'Red flags' visible for mass shooting suspect Bryan Sweatt - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

'Red flags' visible for mass shooting suspect Bryan Sweatt

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In the days and weeks leading up to a mass shooting, Bryan Sweatt made numerous postings to his Facebook page. Some posts, in hindsight, appear to be warming signs, experts say.

Helen Pridgen with the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide says in a typical situation, suicide does not involve others; this one, like all murder-suicides, is very rare.

In a 911 call placed by Sweatt, he talks to the dispatcher, saying he is ready to take his life.

Deputies say 27-year-old Bryan Sweatt sounded calm, making the 911 call in the middle of killing five people before turning his gun on himself. However, in the months leading up to the shooting, his Facebook postings paint a desperate picture.

"Take it seriously. Don't gamble," Pridgen says.

She stresses situations like this one fall way outside of conventional thinking when it comes to suicide, but that red flags can still exist.

Posted two and a half weeks before the shooting, Sweatt desperately asks for help, and threatens to drive his truck into a pole.

Others aren't as overt, but Pridgen says in either case, offering resources can help.

"If you pick up on these warning signs, it's important to provide that person with the lifeline number, to reach out to them, reach out to a family member and let them know what you're hearing or what you're seeing," Pridgen says.  

Pridgen says posts about being left with no way out, being in a constant rage or extreme isolation are just some of the things that could let you know a person needs to talk.

"Help is available, a lot of these situations are preventable," Pridgen says. "Unfortunately, this can't be changed. But for people listening today, if there are people you're concerned about increase your awareness and know there is help available. Any of us can be in the right place at the right time to save a life, if we are aware of the warning signs, if we memorize the lifeline number, any of us could be the one to save a life at certain point in time."

If you know anyone who may be contemplating ending their life, Facebook has a link to get in touch with people posting suicidal content. They'll look at their posts and, if necessary, send them the number for the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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