State Representative Todd Hunter is preparing for the start of the Legislative Session next month. As he returns to Austin, he’s made it clear he wants to tackle a number of issues, including suicide prevention.
On Monday morning, Representative Hunter invited people who have been impacted by suicide, to share their thoughts and experiences. They all agreed suicide prevention must be a priority in Texas and in our schools.
“It’s time not to ignore it,” said Representative Hunter. “It’s time to talk about it.”
Suicide is a topic that hits close to home. Recently, two Veterans Memorial High School students took their own lives.
“It is back here in our yard, in our city,” said Dr. Cissy Reynolds-Perez, the assistant Superintendent at West Oso ISD.
Today, Dr. Perez, Representative Hunter and others discussed how schools can take action in suicide prevention. Dr. Perez says recently more students are approaching their counselors, or one another, to talk about suicide.
“It’s not that they feel like dying,” said Dr. Perez. “It’s that they want to take some pain away and they don’t know how to take the pain away.”
One idea discussed today is providing a safe-haven for students to talk about their mental health.
“And how to cope with losing at something,” said Dr. Perez, “how to cope with failure, how to cope with loss.”
They also discussed recognizing what signs to look for, and making sure those with suicidal thoughts have access to mental health care.
Another important step is to erase the stigma around suicide.
“Let’s make people feel comfortable,” said Representative Hunter. “Let’s be positive.”
All schools agreed, suicide prevention needs to be addressed in our schools.
“We have to reach them at that root before it manifests into something deadly,” Dr. Perez said.
Representative Hunter also says his office formed a suicide prevention task force. The task force is a group of local educators who will write reports to recommend suicide prevention methods. He hopes to discuss the task force’s recommendations in the upcoming legislative session.