CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are nearly 45,000 suicides in the US each year. Every one of those deaths was preventable.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and local health advocates are putting on events to raise awareness. Friday at Del Mar College, the Bayview Behavioral Hospital and other local organizations hosted a symposium on suicide prevention and awareness.
"The impact is huge for every one of those losses," said Nicole Theriot, Director for Suicide Prevention Programs with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Theriot said everyone should know the signs of suicidal behavior, as well as know how to react.
"They indicate that somebody is in distress, someone is in trouble," Theriot said. "Feelings like hopelessness."
It's a struggle that a Corpus Christi Police Department officer knows all too well. Sr. Officer Denise Pace's mother was suicidal all her life.
"She took a bunch of pills and I decided you need help," Pace said.
Luckily, Officer Pace's mother's story did not end there. Today she is thriving and thankful for the wakeup call she got years ago.
However, Pace continues to deal with the lows of suicide while she's working. She and her colleagues are constantly called to scenes of suicide threats or completed suicides. These experiences can be taxing on anyone.
"We want to educate the professional community and the general community that we're all in this together," said Courtney Sanchez with Bayview Behavioral Hospital.
Sanchez believes it is important for health professionals and first responders to properly cope with those kinds of situations. She said there is something she does to decompress after handling suicidal patients or cases.
"Focusing on who has done better. Who has gotten better. Who's feeling better," Sanchez said.
In its entirety, the symposium had a single message: There is hope and help.
Theriot said suicide prevention is a community effort. If you see someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, say something.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. The line is open 24/7.
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