Chalk the Walk to sketch hope into hearts of despair in Edinburg

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An inspiring message written on pavement seen during the 2022 Chalk the Walk event at South Texas Health System Behavior in Edinburg. (Courtesy: South Texas Health System)

Those struggling with depression may not know it at the time, but help can be just a phone call away. For those struggling with thoughts of suicide, that phone call can be a matter of life or death.

This and many other resources are available to anyone who needs help, and that’s what South Texas Health System hopes attendees of Saturday’s Chalk the Walk take away from the second annual event.

The timing is fitting as September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Throughout the event, which will run from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at STHS Behavioral, located at 2102 W. Trenton Road in Edinburg, attendees will have the opportunity to write words of comfort and optimism on the pavement.

For those at STHS, the event is a way to further encourage more discussion on mental health and the importance of identifying the signs of someone struggling with suicidal thoughts.

In 2021 alone the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention averaged a total of 48,183 suicides with a majority a those being males.

Another CDC report in 2021 showed that of 12.3 million adults who seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million made a plan and 1.7 million made an attempt.

According to Lidia Guerra, intake coordinator at STHS Behavioral and a licensed professional counselor, those struggling with mental health issues often feel ashamed or even guilty due to the stigma surrounding suicidal thoughts.

“Sometimes they deny that they were suicidal,” Guerra said. “Those are the ones that are kind of heartbreaking because they’re in denial.”

Attendees of the 2022 Chalk the Walk event at South Texas Health System Behavior in Edinburg. (Courtesy: South Texas Health System)

It’s particularly challenging for those with family members or loved ones who discourage them from seeking help.

In fact, Guerra said sometimes parents don’t want their child to be admitted somewhere they could get the help they need for a variety of reasons.

“Those are the ones that I said that are more challenging when the parents don’t want them to come to a hospital for crisis stabilization and assistance,” Guerra said.

For Guerra, events such as the Chalk the Walk helps community members learn about resources available that could potentially save a life, such as the STHS Behavioral facility which operates 24/7 for patients, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and counselors.

“It’s important for them to know about the resources that are available,” she added. “It’s important to raise awareness because sometimes the patients, they don’t show any signs, they never attempted suicide, they don’t think they’re depressed so it’s important to talk about the risk.”

Guerra, who pulls from 10 years of experience in this work and who said she’s fulfilled when helping people in crisis, said she also assists with the admission process at STHS Behavioral, which takes referrals from social services, mental health services and schools as well as police departments and homes.

To reach STHS Behavioral, call (956) 388-1300 or visit southtexashealthsystembehavioral.com.