SAN ANGELO, Texas — The month of September is deemed Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.

The West Texas Counseling and Guidance (WTCG) non-profit services the Concho Valley with counseling services for anyone who may be struggling. Community Relations partner Tabbatha Lenard says that as the community has started to come out of the depths of COVID-19, the suicide rate has actually increased. “…even though it’s a tragedy, there’s a togetherness and so as things kind of continue to go back to normal and that sort of thing that we’ve seen an uptick in losses.”

As we approach the winter months, Lenard says we need to make efforts to ensure people are checking up on one another as colder months can trigger more depressive episodes. Lenard says, “We do notice that they call it the winter blues. So as we approach some of those colder months, it gets darker for longer periods of time.”

The WTCG is looking to provide more insight on the topic of suicide and is trying to expand its initiative for a zero-loss-of-life program. “…from 2018 to 2019, we realized there was a really big issue with West Texas having doubled the national and state average of suicide losses. Since then, we’ve worked really hard to create this Zero Suicide initiative.” Lenard says.

The “West Texas Mentality” as Lenard and her group call it, creates a stigma that we need to keep our heads down and get to work, without time to talk about how we are feeling or what we are dealing with. Lenard says, “Mental health and the stigma of mental health and suicide prevention still has so much room to be discussed, especially in West Texas.”

National Suicide and Prevention awareness day is September 10. There is a Shine-A-Light event that day as a memorial for those who have passed from suicide. to learn more information on the event, visit: https://www.sanangelocounseling.org