Throughout the length of the current international situation of COVID-19 and the despair it has brought with it, along with other unfortunate events around the world, it has been a tough year to say the least. Fear, loss, grief and anxiety are among the most prevalent words that come to mind when many think of the year 2020. One of the most significant things to come out of this is the ability to adapt to change and to come together as a community because people know they are not suffering alone. Resilience is important in our current situation and sharing the strategies to become resilient will really help our communities gain the strength they need to overcome tough boundaries. With the hardships people have been facing, many may feel stuck, desperate and alone; it is because of this that we must keep an eye out for those around us. September is national suicide prevention month and it is a time to share resources and raise awareness on suicide prevention.
According to the CDC Wonder database, in Region 11 there have been a total of 3,016 deaths by suicide from 1999 to 2018 related to alcohol and drugs. Stressful times cause for coping mechanisms and unfortunately not everyone picks up a healthy one. Binge drinking or the use of illicit drugs and misuse of prescription/over the counter medication can lead to serious injuries or even death.
Individuals with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts often do not open up about their state of mind because of the stigmas around these topics, but, as mentioned by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 7% of all adults in the United States have experienced at least one major depressive episode within the previous 12 months. This breaks down to about 16 million individuals over the age of 18. The conversation around suicide must continue in order to minimize the rates and shed light on a topic that in many aspects is still considered taboo. Acknowledging someone who is going through depression and reminding them that there are resources out there for them can be the first step in suicide prevention.
Everyone may not be able to see each other face to face just yet, but our community is going through this time together. This month, focus on your mental health and reach out to those who may be having a tough time. Your conversation may distract them from the havoc and can be a preventative measure. Although September is national suicide prevention month, prevention should be a focus year-round. Remember that communication is the key to prevention and everyone in our community can hold that key to help someone else. If you or a loved one need to talk, please contact the National Suicide Hotline (available 24/7) at: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The Prevention Resource Center (PRC), a program of Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas, serves as the central data collection repository for region 11 and the developer of a yearly Regional Needs Assessment (RNA), which is available to community members at no cost. To find out more about the prevention work being conducted in your community, download the latest Regional Needs Assessment at our website: www.prc11.org/data. If you are interested in becoming a part of this project and would like to play a role in the 2021 Regional Needs Assessment process, please contact Eduardo Salinas, PRC Public Relations Coordinator, at (956) 787-7111 ext. 243 or Karen Rodriguez, PRC Data Coordinator, at (956) 787-7111 ext. 245.