SAN ANGELO, Texas — The number of suicides in Tom Green County each year is twice the national average. The annual ‘Shine a Light’ event to raise awareness will look a lot different this year.
“This is the 5th annual ‘Shine a Light’ event in honor of suicide awareness and prevention month. Usually we have a luminary memorial walk to honor those we’ve lost to suicide and we provide resources and education to the community. It’s a big deal with an outdoor BBQ sale, a special presentation and live music. However, this year we had to get creative and think outside the box,” said Tabbatha Lenard, Community Relations Asst. for West Texas Counseling & Guidance.
Tom Green County has twice the national average of suicides per year. To raise awareness, every year West Texas Counseling & Guidance hosts the ‘Shine a Light’ event that includes a luminary memorial walk, but the pandemic changed the plans this year.
“This year we’re doing more of a virtual event and we also have our ‘Move’ment that we’re trying to get people to participate in now through September 30th,” explained Lenard, “We knew we weren’t going to be in person together. It was heartbreaking but we had to figure out how to have it anyway. Not having it wasn’t an option.”
Lenard is hoping that with the ‘Move’ment being online, more people will be able to participate.
“We decided to host this ‘Move’ment. We’re asking people to move for 20 minutes in honor of suicide prevention and awareness. You can swim, run, walk, jog, dance. Then, simply go to our website and donate $20 in honor of ‘Shine a Light.’ We’re asking people to nominate two others for zero suicides. It’s as simple as that,” continued Lenard.
Those who participate are encouraged to upload a picture to social media using #2020SHINE.
A virtual presentation will be held on September 12 with a ballet performance, ‘Art in Uncommon Places’ art installation, and reading of the names of those who lost their lives to suicide.
“We’re working to provide prevention, intervention, awareness through ‘Shine a Light’ and all of our services here. We know that now more than ever, mental health is more important than it has been,” said Lenard.
Click here to participate in this year’s ‘Shine a Light’ event.
If you are experiencing suicidal thinking/impulses, overwhelming depression, or another mental health crisis, or you need help with your mental health immediately, call 325-944-2561 Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm to get connected with someone today.
If emergency medical care is needed, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.