HARLINGEN, Texas ( ValleyCentral) – September is suicide prevention month and even though the month is almost over, local behavioral experts are pushing for more awareness that can help save a life.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2019 alone more than 47,511 people took their own lives, and there were 1.38 million suicide attempts in the U.S.
Behavioral Health experts at Valley Baptist Health System said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused factors relating to suicide to increase such as job loss, abuse, and even isolation from others.
Chaplin Joe Perez, Vice President of Mission and Ministry, has helped many people who have contemplated suicide. Perez says just reaching out to that person to talk can make a difference.
“So, If somebody brings it up don’t kind of shush it, don’t talk it down. Say tell me more about that?” Perez said. “In talking it through, what happens is that you may be able to see things they love and care about, and if you can link them to those things that would be the motivation to not harm themselves.”
One reason people may be afraid to talk about suicide with someone is that it may give that person the idea of attempting suicide. But Vice President of Behavioral Services Vanessa Saenz said that is just a myth.
“Many individuals who are experiencing suicidal ideation are highly likely to disclose that to a loved one that they trust if they just ask,” Saenz said. ” So don’t be afraid to ask and also if you feel they are experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideation, defiantly encourage them to seek professional help.”
Warning signs people should look out for is if a friend or family member has become isolates from others. One example would be them not wanting to participate in activities they normally would. There are also physical signs such as cuts if they tried to harm themselves before.
Other risk factors include past trauma or abuse, stressful life moments, and lack of social support. Saenz said there are many resources in the valley where people can find help.
“There are a ton of community resources or crisis centers, crisis hotlines, or national suicide hotlines,” Saenz said. “Pick up the phone go to your nearest emergency room, someone will be there for you.”
But suicide prevention does not just stop after September. Local health experts hope more people will become aware of the warning signs and help someone in need.
“Let’s continue to keep it at the forefront so we can pay attention and that just triggers us to think… okay who are the people in my sphere of influence,” Perez said.
“Bring this awareness and encourage people to talk about it because it can save a life,” Saenz said.
Both Valley Baptist and DHR have behavioral hotlines to call for help:
Valley Baptist – (956) 564-3674 or (956) 389-4940
DHR – (956)- 362- 5357
Other suicide prevention hotlines can be found below:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Tropical Texas Behavioral Health Crisis Line: 1-877-289-7199