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“CALL 988 IF YOU NEED SOMEONE TO TALK TO…”
La Salle County’s elected officials were joined by courthouse staff, law enforcement, emergency responders, service providers, school district administrators, child advocates and community organizations Wednesday, September 13, in a broad show of support for mental health and suicide prevention awareness.
The month’s declaration was made by County Judge Leodoro Martinez III, who shared the podium with County Attorney Elizabeth Martinez and Cotulla Woman’s Club representative Louisa Franklin in bringing attention to the need for public education in mental health issues and collaborative efforts in the intervention of suicide.
“The untimely and unexpected passing of a beloved family member or friend causes immeasurable grief and heartache for everyone whose life that person touched,” the county judge read from his proclamation for September. “When a life is lost to suicide, those who are left behind face grief, pain, and many unanswered questions, including wondering if there was more that could have been done to prevent this unimaginable tragedy.”
The judge and civic leaders noted that statistics indicate someone dies by suicide approximately every two hours in Texas, and records for 2020 by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention show that more than 3,900 people died by suicide that year alone.
“Suicide has become the second leading cause of death for individuals 15 to 34 years old,” the judge said, “the fifth leading cause of death for individuals 35 to 54 years old, and the eleventh leading cause of death across all age groups.
“Almost three times as many people died by suicide in 2019 than in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents,” the county judge added. “These alarming figures prove that suicide is a public health challenge in the state of Texas.”
The county’s dedication of September as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month is made with a view to spreading understanding about mental health and awareness of the need for suicide intervention, according to both Judge Martinez and CWC Suicide Prevention Project leader Franklin, who concurred that state- and countywide discussions on the issues are paramount.
Franklin and County Attorney Martinez are leading members of the Cotulla Woman’s Club as well as taking active roles in child advocacy through the Children’s Alliance of South Texas. Franklin is a retired educator and present member of the Cotulla ISD Board of Trustees.
The Cotulla Woman’s Club is joining county officials in promoting the 24-hour emergency helpline at 988 for all those who need someone to talk to and who need support through emotional hardship.
Workplace assistance, veterans’ family services, family support groups and advocates collaborate on meaningful solutions “to reduce and eliminate suicide for all Texans,” the county judge said. “We encourage all residents to take time to understand mental health through education, and recognize that we need to take care of our mental health while we take care of each other.
“I encourage all Texans to become more aware of the tragedy of suicide and join this important fight to save lives,” Judge Martinez said. “No Texan should feel alone, ashamed, or as though they are a burden to others, and I encourage Texans always to display kindness, compassion and love to their families, friends and neighbors.
“Together, we can help create a future where this terrible heartache is no more,” the judge said.