CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Across college campuses around the U.S., more than 1,000 students commit suicide annually, according to a report from Emory University.
Beyond campuses, one person attempts suicide in this country every 38 seconds. Many of these people struggle in silence, feeling like they have nowhere else to turn.
Twin sisters at Coastal Carolina University are wanting to change that notion. They have made it their mission to let those hurting know that there is another way.
How are they helping others? They're sharing their own story.
Bailynne Miller had hoped to set herself apart from her twin sibling, which is why she attended a separate university than her sister, Kelsie.
However, Bailynne's first year in college didn't go quite as she had planned.
"[I] started being anxiety-ridden, being away from my sister, being away from my home," she said. "The transition into college is extremely difficult, and not a lot of people kind of understand that until you get there. And you realize that, 'Wow! I'm alone. I'm totally alone.'"
Eventually, Bailynne stopped going to classes, stopped talking to friends, and found herself unable to shake the pain she felt day in and day out.
All of that culminated into one rash decision four years ago that she will never forget.
"I ended up attempting suicide my freshman year," Bailynne said. "It was like 30 seconds. A 30-second decision changed my life forever. And it's something that I deal with daily. But it happened so quickly that I wasn't aware of the consequences or what it would feel like. All I wanted was to just not to feel any pain anymore."
Fortunately for Bailynne, Kelsie answered her phone just when her sister needed her most.
"I said, 'What did you do?'" Kelsie said. "She said, 'I did something, and I don't have that much time, but I want you to know that it's not your fault, and that I love you, and if I don't make it that I want you to be strong for the both of us, and I'm sorry that I couldn't be strong enough for the both of us.' I can't even tell you the emotions that went through my mind, and I think that will live with me for the rest of my life."
Bailynne said there isn't a day that goes by where she doesn't think about that night.
"She answered the phone when I was about to pass out, and she told me to hold on, and she told me she would never give up on me," Bailynne said. "And that is the best thing anyone could ever do for me."
The memories are painful, and Bailynne's struggle didn't end there.
Everyone seemed to be asking "why," because to them, Bailynne didn't fit the mold of someone who would try to commit suicide.
"You could have everything, everything could be going well for you, and you can still have this cloud over you," she said. "It just frustrated me a lot of times when people were like, 'Well you have everything. Well, you're so happy, you're so lucky.' I didn't see it."
The twins have come a long way since Bailynne's suicide attempt and are now trying to help others.
"I have a sense of peace knowing that it's behind me, and that I can help other people that may be going through the same things as me now," Bailynne said. "I think I'm at a point in my life where the four years were ... I'm healed."
Kelsie stressed that a person's suicide attempt not only affects that individual, but also their friends and family just as much.
"I think mine is more of a secondary in her story, but at the same time I think you [talking to Bailynne] were the motivation that helped define what I wanted to do with my life," she said. "Because I want to make sure that nothing like that ever happens to anyone."
Kelsie changed her major and career path to counsel others going through the pain her sister survived. Her motivation was the thoughts of that phone call every time she interacted with someone who was struggling like Bailynne was.
"It's enough motivation for the rest of my life because I thank God every single day that she's still with me," Kelsie said.
Bailynne said the key is being proactive about treatment if a person is feeling lost or depressed. She added that, "you just have to make the choice to get up, and be like 'Listen, okay let's be strong here. Let's just take one step at a time. One day at a time.'"
Because of their powerful story, the twins are now a part of a PSA documentary put together for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention that will be shared on college campuses all across the country, even at CCU.
It's an opportunity the two never imagined they would be given, but they hope their stories will help save lives.
Watch the trailer for the documentary below:
An Out of the Darkness Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, will take place on CCU's campus on March 18 at 11 a.m. To register, click here.