Suicide Rate Above State Average

The suicide rate in San Angelo has been above the statewide average for the past 14 years. Local law enforcement officials say, in San Angelo, most suicide-related cases are among young teens. We take a look at this epidemic plaguing the Concho Valley.

Suicide now accounts for more deaths in the U.S. than car crashes, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC); rates in Tom Green County are 3.7% above the state average. The local mental health unit receives about 180 calls for suicidal subjects each month. Sergeant Quentin Williams says, in San Angelo, those calls most commonly involve 14 to 16 year olds.

"A lot of the kids are experimenting with drugs and that's what leads them to become suicidal or actually commit suicide," Williams said.

People in our community and across the world battle depression. San Angelo officers encounter people struggling with mental health problems on a daily basis, Williams says, these people often reach out to loved ones and that those cries for help should be taken very seriously.

"That's basically their outcry. For someone to reach out and give them their resource and try to reach out, because they're not going to usually come out on their own and say hey 'I'm depressed I need to go to a psych hospital' because of pride," Williams said.

West Texas Counseling & Guidance Center Executive Director, Dusty McCoy, says with the recent suicide of Comedian, Robin Williams, he hopes this increases awareness and the public realizes how isolated an at-risk person may be.

"Suicide is so prevalent and somebody that on the outside seems to have everything [may] really and truly [be] going through so much pain to the point that they commit suicide," McCoy said.

So far in 2014, there have been more than 184 reports involving suicidal subjects, eleven of which resulted in a death.

There are services provided by law enforcement agencies that can guide a person along the path of mental health recovery.

"If they're a danger to themselves or they've already attempted suicide or they're still depressed and still need resources we'll place them under an emergency attention order," Williams said.

McCoy says if a person can begin a treatment program, healing becomes a reality. That hope is the strongest motivator for a recovering person.

"We know therapy works. We know that people that come to counseling and receive professional counseling end up getting better," McCoy said.

If you suspect someone you know may be having suicidal thoughts, reach out to them and encourage them to seek help immediately. There are a number of resources in the Concho Valley, including two MHMR locations on Oakes Street and another on Main Street. The National 24-hour suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

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