UT Tyler to host walk for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

According to the latest data from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in Texas in 2020 there were 3,900 suicide deaths.
Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 3:57 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 7:54 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Suicide prevention and awareness is in the spotlight this month. According to the latest data from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in Texas in 2020 there were 3,900 suicide deaths, which equates to one Texan lost to suicide every two hours.

Scott Clark, a counselor at UT Tyler says this month addresses the stigma of mental health.

“There still is a stigma in our society when it comes to mental health and treating it, and that’s why so many suicides are surprises to a lot of people. So, we want to do our best to try and decrease that stigma and just make it okay for people to address their mental health issue like they would any other health issue,” Clark said.

The National Institute of Mental Health Says the warning signs someone might be suicidal include feeling guilty, shameful or a burden to others, feeling emptiness, sadness, or anxiousness, or if they are experiencing major changes in behavior. Gina Petit with the Burke Center says if someone you know is exhibiting these behaviors you should reach out to them.

“it’s best to approach them privately and non-judgmentally and commenting on the things you have seen such as, ‘you know I have noticed you haven’t been yourself lately or you haven’t been around lately, how are you doing?’ Once that dialog gets going and its comfortable, ask about suicide,” Petit said.

Many different groups have plans to host events for the month across East Texas in the coming weeks.

Kay Pleasant with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention North Texas Chapter says a ‘walk out of the darkness’ community walk will take place in Tyler on September 30th. She says she got involved with the group when she lost her husband to suicide in 2017.

“And at that time, I knew nothing about suicide. So being an educator I just threw myself into becoming educated about suicide and AFSP and the walk was one of the first events I participated in,” Pleasant said.

The 5k walk takes place on UT Tyler’s Campus. Community mental health resources will be made available for those who are in need. It is free to sign up but donations to the foundation are welcomed.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the suicide and crisis lifeline at 9-8-8.

For more information on awareness events happening in East Texas visit the Big Red Box on our website.