TEMPLE, Texas — Around the nation, people are raising awareness for National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
In Central Texas, Central Counties Services is hosting a "Walk for Suicide Prevention Awareness" on Sept. 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Pepper Creek Trail in Temple.
The event is free to the public and hopes to bring awareness to suicide prevention and mental health resources.
Cherica Allen, a licensed professional counselor at Central Counties Services, strives to educate those on the stigmas and misconceptions about mental health.
"It's about connecting, empowering, talking and collaborating with others in the community," Allen said.
It's a community that goes beyond just the people of Central Texas.
Doug Vance, President of the Brazos Valley Coalition on Suicide Prevention, says we are losing more veterans to suicide this year.
"We've lost more veterans to suicide in America than we lost in combat during the entire Vietnam conflict," Vance said. "It's staggering to look at the numbers."
As the numbers increase, suicide continues to impact all ages.
"About 10% of our high school students in Texas, grades nine through 12, on a survey, admit to attempting suicide within the past 12 months of that survey," Vance said. "Now think about that, and that's not thinking about it or feeling bad or wishing you were dead. That's actually attempting, cutting your wrist, taking pills, swerving your car off the road."
Vance encourages those who are struggling to tell a trusted person.
"Telling somebody, it doesn't mean you're weak," Vance added. "It does, in fact, make you strong because it takes strength to talk about those types of feelings and thoughts. Too many people suffer in silence."
For those listening on the other side, check in with your loved ones.
"I empower you to reach out to them today, right now, and just say, 'Hey, I was just calling to see how you're doing. I haven't heard from you,'" Allen said. "We can prevent it by expressing that we care and educating the community."
Allen says their team is facilitating other additional trainings to help educate the community regarding suicide prevention efforts, such as:
1. Mental Health First Aid for Adults on Sept. 11, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training on Sept. 12, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3. Mental Health First Aid for Youth on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
4. Ask? Ask About Suicide to Save a Life on Sept. 15, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
These trainings will take place at the Central Texas Council of Governments in Belton, Texas. Community members can register at Eventbrite.com.
To register for the walk at Pepper Creek Trail, register at Eventbrite.com.
Vance says on Thursday, Sept. 28, there is a free event at the Savior Lutheran Church in College Station.
"Everybody in the community who's at all interested or impacted in any way, teachers, parents, teenagers, first responders, mental health providers, probation officers, anybody you can think of that might deal with suicide or just interested in it at all, we're going to have the first ever what we call a town hall discussion," Vance said. "We'll have a panel discussion of different individuals from different walks of life talking about suicide."
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