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Kathy Beazley
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Photo Courtesy: NAMI North Texas

September is a month that holds significance for various reasons, from the changing seasons to cultural celebrations. However, it also serves as a time to shed light on a matter of utmost importance: suicide prevention. National Suicide Prevention Month, observed in September, aims to raise awareness about the critical issue of suicide and mental health, while emphasizing the vital role that organizations like NAMI North Texas play in offering support, education, and hope to individuals and families affected by mental health challenges.

Understanding the Crisis and the Warning Signs

Suicide is a global public health concern, claiming the lives of more than 800,000 individuals every year, according to the World Health Organization. The impact of suicide extends far beyond those who lose their lives; it leaves a lasting emotional toll on families, friends, and communities. By reaching out for help or checking in with family and friends, we can avoid devastating outcomes.

Recognizing signs of suicide is essential. Watch for expressions of hopelessness, increased drug and alcohol use, talking about being a burden, withdrawal from family and friends, impulsive and reckless behavior, and dramatic mood shifts. If someone shows these signs, it's time to worry. NAMI advises approaching them with empathy and openness. Choose a private setting, express your concern non-judgmentally, and listen actively. Ask direct questions about their feelings and offer reassurance. Encourage professional help, assist in finding resources, and stay connected.

Like any other health emergency, it’s important to address a mental health crisis like suicide quickly and effectively. Unlike other health emergencies, mental health crises don’t have instructions or resources on how to help or what to expect (like the Heimlich Maneuver or CPR). To help address the need, NAMI created Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency, so people experiencing mental health emergencies and their loved ones can have the answers and information they need when they need it. Your support can make a difference in their journey to recovery.

National Suicide Prevention Month is a time to honor those who have been affected by suicide, as well as a platform to promote awareness, prevention, and support. The observance serves as a call to action, urging individuals, communities, and organizations to work collectively to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and to foster an environment of empathy, understanding, and hope.

NAMI North Texas’ Crucial Role

NAMI North Texas stands as a beacon of hope for individuals and families grappling with mental health challenges. Incorporated in 1982, NAMI North Texas has dedicated itself to providing support, raising awareness, and advocating for policies that prioritize mental health. Through education, advocacy, and a network of local chapters, NAMI has made substantial strides in reducing stigma and ensuring that mental health concerns are treated with the same importance as physical health.

One of NAMI's most significant achievements is its unwavering commitment to reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues. The organization actively promotes conversations that dispel myths, encourage empathy, and create an environment where seeking help is seen as a sign of strength rather than weakness. This approach aligns perfectly with the spirit of National Suicide Prevention Month, where honest discussions are essential to saving lives.

NAMI North Texas offers an extensive range of resources that empower individuals to take control of their mental health journey. From educational programs and support groups to helplines and crisis intervention, NAMI's offerings ensure that no one has to face mental health challenges alone. By fostering a sense of community, NAMI gives individuals and their loved ones the tools they need to navigate their struggles and seek help when necessary.

How You Can Get Involved

During National Suicide Prevention Month, there are numerous ways you can participate in raising awareness and promoting mental health:

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about the signs of mental distress and how to support those in need.
  2. Start Conversations: Initiate discussions about mental health with friends, family, and colleagues to break down stigma.
  3. Support Organizations: Contribute to and volunteer with organizations like NAMI North Texas that are dedicated to mental health advocacy and support.
  4. Share Resources: Spread the word about available resources for those struggling with mental health challenges.

Remember, a small act of kindness, a listening ear, or a shared story of hope can make an immeasurable difference in someone's life.

If you are seeking support or need information on how to better manage a mental health challenge in yourself or a loved one, you are not alone. Reach out to NAMI North Texas, a chartered affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which offers outstanding peer-led programs and provides no-cost education, skills training and support in Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Rockwall counties. Visit www.naminorthtexas.org  or call 214-341-7133 for more information. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts and in need immediate of help, please call or text 988 or chat online at www.988lifeline.org.

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