Symposium Aims to Reduce Suicides

SAN MARCOS - Experts converging in San Marcos agree suicide in Texas needs to be addressed.

The Texas chapter of Mental Health America says there are as many as 3,000 suicides each year.

"There are 1.5 times more suicides than homicides," said Merily Keller of Stop Texas Suicides.

The trend isn’t just reversible, it’s absolutely preventable. It begins by treating suicide as a public health issue in the same vein as heart or other diseases.

“There are biological risk factors, there are sociological risk factors, there are environmental risk factors and they work together to put somebody in what we call the suicide zone,” says Keller.

People in the suicide zone are described as having high risk factors, with little access to preventative measures. One critical preventive measure is posing a direct question even when it seems counterintuitive.

“Asking ‘Are you feeling so bad you're considering taking your own life?',” said Keller.

"I think a lot of people have this myth that if we say the word suicide then somehow we've put it in their mind and that that will be the impetus for them to go ahead and attempt suicide. That's not the case at all,” said Angela Hobbs-Lopez of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Those questions can start a tough conversation than can in turn be beneficial.

“You can actually put them in touch with someone to help them get the treatment or intervention that they need," said Hobbs-Lopez.