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In the United States, there are more than 1.7 million deaths by suicide annually – on average one person dies by suicide every three hours.
Commissioners Court approved a proclamation designating September as Suicide Prevention Month, in support of efforts to identify, support and assist people in crisis and their families.
Yolanda Estrada-Peralez, an accounts payable supervisor in Precinct 1, started the Say Yes to Life campaign with her husband, Francisco, following the death of their 17-year-old son Andrew on December 15, 2015.
“The message is for everyone not to feel that their problems are the end of their story,” Estrada-Peralez said. “There is hope, and you matter; say yes to life.”
Estrada-Peralez was joined by other Hidalgo County residents who have lost a loved one to suicide. A presentation memorializing some of the suicide victims was presented with photos and the date each died. Their ages ranged from 16-year-old Jeremy Isaiah Sandoval, who died in 2012, to 49-year-old Fr. Ricardo Garcia Jr., who died in 2011. The most recent suicide victim memorialized was Javier “Wi” Garcia, who was 17 when he died on May 28, 2017. Also present to support the prevention effort was 449th District Court Judge Renee R. Betancourt, who presides over the juvenile court.
"I'm extremely honored to stand up here beside these individuals," said Betancourt. "About 80 percent of children that I see suffer from mental health issues; as a community and as a county we should be advocates for awareness and talk about the services we have available.
To raise awareness, the “2nd Hidalgo County Suicide Awareness and Prevention Event,” hosted by Say Yes to Life, the Peralez Family, Chris Ardis, Vivian Velazquez Tamez, and the International Baccalaureate at Lamar Academy Student Council will be held at 6:30 p.m. on September 8, at North San Juan Park on 509 East Earling Road in San Juan.
"It takes a tremendous amount of strength from those who can admit they need help," said Precinct 1 Commissioner David Fuentes. "Mental Illness is a non-age discriminating disease that effects everyone; thank you for bringing awareness of this disease, and showing your strength by further educating the community."
All residents of Hidalgo County are urged to recognize suicide as a significant public health problem, and support the development of accessible behavioral health services.
Please call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK; and use it when you, a friend, or loved one is experiencing a crisis, so that lives can be saved.
Photo: Commissioners Court approved a proclamation designating September as Suicide Prevention Month.