September 14, 2022 536 PM
TERLINGUA — This weekend, Big Bend Suicide Awareness will host a workshop at the Red Pattillo Community Center in Terlingua training locals how to help friends and neighbors struggling with suicidal thoughts. “We are a vast county and it’s easy to overlook each other,” organizer Shannon Montague wrote on Facebook.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is one of the 10 most common causes of death in the United States. The state of Texas sees about 4,000 deaths by suicide every year. “Suicide rates are higher in rural America than in urban America,” the CDC’s website reads. “The gap in suicide rates between rural and urban areas grew steadily from 1999 to 2015. Since 2007, the gap began widening more quickly.”
The Terlingua training will follow the Ask About Suicide to Save a Life (AS+K?) guidelines laid out by the Texas Suicide Prevention Collaborative. The AS+K? system teaches folks how to recognize warning signs for suicide and “is intended to offer hope through positive action,” per the organization’s educational materials.
The basic steps of the system include recognizing suicidal thoughts and behaviors, securing “access to lethal means,” and knowing when and how to refer people in danger to the appropriate care. The Texas Suicide Prevention Collaborative compares the AS+K? system to training the general public in CPR — it’s designed to be easy to remember and accessible to people who aren’t medical professionals.
So far, the organization has mainly stuck to social media as a way of connecting people who want to learn more about how to serve at-risk members of the community. “It’s just a grassroots organization put together by a few locals,” Montague explained. “We’ve had an overwhelming number of suicides in the area, unfortunately, and it’s meant to be preventative, to bring in outside resources.”
Montague hopes that it will be the first of many such trainings and advised people from around the region who can’t make it to this weekend’s training to join the effort online through the Big Bend Suicide Awareness Facebook Group.
The Terlingua AS+K? training will be held this Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Terlingua. Interested individuals do not need to attend both dates. The Red Pattillo Community Center is located just west of Highway 118 down the road from the Post Office and Chili Pepper Café.