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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

TXST, San Marcos reflect on Suicide Awareness Month

Lucciana Choueiry

This article contains discussions of suicide and death. 

The Hays County Commissioners officially declared September as National Suicide Awareness Month on Sept. 5.

National Suicide Awareness Month seeks to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and promote understanding and support for individuals who may be struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide. 

“This is a real-life issue that affects us all… at every level. We have many people that need mental health support nationwide and so this awareness to help people,” Judge Ruben Becerra said during the court’s session. 

In 2022, Texas witnessed the second-largest surge in the suicide mortality rate, which escalated by 56.9%, among individuals aged 20-24. 

“This lets us know that students need to be aware of resources right when they get to college…,” Parker said. “I really do think that [awareness] also needs to start in K through 12. If it’s not started then, it’s sometimes too late to wait till [the issue] gets here.”

These events aim to encourage compassion and foster dialogue by promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

“We encourage all residents to take time to understand mental health through education by actively participating in Mental Health First Aid Training, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Suicide Prevention Training, Youth Awareness of Mental Health Training and other opportunities to increase education and awareness in Hays County,” the court proclamation said. 

Associate Dean of Students Terence Parker said National Suicide Awareness Month serves as a reminder that individuals are not alone in their struggles.

“Advocacy is about helping students become their own self-advocate,” Parker said. “In certain cultures you can’t ask for help. You figure it out even though you may be suffering mentally. We teach students how to find resources so the next time they can do it on their own.”

Shelby Galbraith, a psychology junior, said she struggled grappling with emotions during her formative years. She said she often felt isolated, but ultimately discovered comfort in the realization that seeking help is acceptable.

“One of the hardest things about going to therapy is showing up,” Galbraith said. “I feel as though it’s one of the biggest hurdles you could ever jump but when you do it’s the most beneficial feeling.”

The Counseling Center is another resource available to students who find themselves struggling during their college career. 

“The best thing that could be put in place when it comes to the Counseling Center is putting up fliers about it around campus, and not only in the month of September,” Galbraith said. “Raising awareness around campus could save someone’s life, beyond just the link at the end of the syllabus.” 

Parker said The Dean of Students Compassion Advocacy Resources and Education Center (DOS CARE) aspires to offer holistic care for students, encompassing their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. 

One of the resources provided through DOS CARE is Basic Needs Hub. Students can discover links to various services catering to their needs, such as housing security, food security and career resources. 

Another service DOS CARE Center usually offers is emergency funding assistance. If a student is grappling with the financial repercussions of an emergency, a staff member can provide guidance in pinpointing potential sources of emergency funds such as for rent and utilities. However, funding is exhausted for the remainder of fiscal year 2023.

“We helped a student who was schizophrenic and could not afford their medication because of some personal things going on,” Parker said. “We were able to help with that because they need the medication to function.”

Community Action Inc. of Central Texas’ objective is to facilitate the San Marcos mental health coalition, which it does in partnership with the city of San Marcos, Hays County, San Marcos Consolidated ISD and Texas State University. 

Cristal Lopez, Community Action Inc. of Central Texas youth services director, said that while September shines a spotlight on mental health, it remains crucial to sustain this awareness throughout the entire year.

“For us it’s the work of the coalition where we are able to address [mental health] on a regular basis… I have to create a space where people feel they can bring their concerns to me,” Lopez said. 

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