September 16, 2020

During National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, HHSC Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services reminds everyone that they can play a role in suicide prevention. The month is dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding suicide and increasing awareness about suicide prevention and warning signs.

Know the Warning Signs

Warning signs are behaviors that indicate someone might be at risk of suicide and needs immediate help. The most common warning signs of suicide are:

  • Verbally talking about or writing about suicide.
  • Feeling hopeless and/or worthless.
  • Putting affairs in order, such as making changes to a will.
  • Stockpiling medications or acquiring lethal means to end one’s life.
  • Increasing use of substances.
  • Expressing a dramatic mood change.

The HHSC suicide prevention wallet card, a downloadable resource guide that can be carried in a wallet or purse, provides more information about warning signs and how to help. The card is available in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF).

The Crisis Text Line provides access to free counseling through text messaging 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Text TX to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK (8255), is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer guidance and assistance for people experiencing thoughts of suicide and their loved ones.

Take Time for Self-Care

Practicing self-care is vital to a person’s overall health and well-being. Keeping a healthy self-care routine to deal with life stressors is an important protective factor against suicide. Below are some ideas to make your September, and every month, healthier.

  • Spend time with loved ones: During COVID-19, social distancing has made it challenging to see friends, family and other loved ones in person. Staying socially connected is vital to good self-care. Find ways to spend time with people you can’t physically be with, such as Zoom, Facetime or phone calls.
  • Participate in enjoyable activities: Whether it’s going for a walk, gardening, reading, cooking, knitting or dancing, find something you like to do and try to do it for at least a few minutes every day.
  • Ask for help: These are stressful times. People who work in helping professions tend to not always ask for help for themselves. When things are overwhelming, reach out to get help.

In March, HHS launched a 24/7 statewide mental health support line to help Texans experiencing anxiety, stress or emotional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This resource offers COVID-19-related mental health support for all Texans. Call the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 833-986-1919.

Health and Wellness Maintenance Tips

Hope and resiliency are two protective ways to maintain your mental health and wellness. Hope promotes a general positive outlook, and resiliency is the ability to recover and continue in the face of adversity. Below are some ideas on how to incorporate these concepts into your daily life.

  • Start each day in a positive way so that it impacts your mood. You can repeat to yourself daily mantras or affirmations — such as “I believe in my ability to get through tough times” — or think of five things you are grateful for before getting out of bed.
  • Keep an optimistic outlook and think about things that you are looking forward to doing or accomplishing that day.
  • Be flexible, adaptable and improvising during these unpredictable times. Think of unpredictable circumstances as being a learning experience or challenge to overcome.
  • Look at things in a broader context to help keep things in perspective.
  • Make connections with others. Be open to helping others and accepting help and support when needed.

For more information about suicide prevention, email the Suicide Prevention Team at the IDD-BHS Office of Mental Health Coordination or visit the office’s Suicide Prevention webpage.