El Paso suicide survivor shares story, raises awareness during suicide prevention month

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — September is Suicide Prevention Month and KTSM 9 News continues to share stories about people who have overcome those dark periods in their lives and places where people can get help.

Emergence Health Network (EHN) is one of the clinics available for El Pasoans to seek counseling for mental health. Therapists and survivors are making sure the community knows where to find resources that can be life saving.

“Personally, in my experience, it feels like it consumes you,” Elizabeth Zarate, a survivor of suicide told KTSM. “You’re so overwhelmed, there’s no way out: ‘nobody can help me.’ You don’t want to put that stigma, ‘I don’t want to put my problems on anybody else; it’s easier if I’m not here,’ and that’s not the case.”

Zarate now works at a local mental health authority and shared that when she started off, she was scared to speak up because of the stigma associated with suicide.

“‘What was this agency going to think of me?’ or ‘Are they going to think I’m incapable of doing my job,’” Zarate shared. “It was nothing of what I thought. It was just overcoming that fear, that stigma of what my employer would believe of me.”

A therapist at EHN said the pandemic has affected those with suicidal thoughts.

“COVID-19 absolutely impacts our suicide rates and, unfortunately, it’s because a lot of us are isolated at home, not able to use the same coping techniques that we were able to,” therapist Celeste Nevarez said.

Zarate said if you’re concerned about someone you love battling suicidal thoughts, watch out for signs early on, including sudden changes of behavior or loss of interest in doing anything.

“Reach out and talk to them and say, ‘Hey I noticed these things, how are you doing?’” Zarate said. “Just listening to them, being there, supporting them, showing them that you care and knowing most definitely where to find your resources. Know where to go for help, because it exists and it works.”

“Take the time. Listen. Understand where they’re coming from and then you can take the next steps of calling the crisis hotline, which we have 24/7,” Nevarez added.

If you’ve lost someone to suicide, it’s important to remember it wasn’t your fault.

“You cannot blame yourself for somebody who has taken their life,” Zarate shared.

Zarate wanted to share a message to those who are struggling right now: “You are worthy of being on this planet. You are worthy of being happy. This moment will pass, it will pass.”

For more information on EHN’s crisis hotline and resources, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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