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UT Tyler students host annual Suicide Walk to promote mental health resources

Mar 27, 2019
By Cory McCoy
Tyler Morning Telegraph

Students at the University of Texas at Tyler are encouraging their peers to learn more about mental health resources.

The Psi Chi Psychology Club and the campus chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness teamed up to host the annual Suicide Walk. This is the fourth year campus organizations have come together to help ensure their peers know how to find resources in a mental health crisis.

Psi Chi member Justin Hayes said the groups wanted to raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health, and also give others a platform to share their experiences.

Kate Keenan spoke to attendees about the loss of her best friend, Jamie Lynn Cantrell, who was an adjunct professor at UT Tyler.

Two years ago, she spoke at the event just one month after Cantrell committed suicide. This year she wanted to discuss the long-term impact of grief.

“Despite the time passing, when I think of my friend’s death, tears come to my eyes, not just for her, but for myself and all those affected by her suffering and death,” Keenan said. “Grief is hard enough without the complexity of suicide.”

Keenan said she did her best to be there for her friend, but knew that she couldn’t completely grasp the pain Cantrell was suffering from.

Last year, a University of Texas study showed that Smith County had the highest suicide rate of the top 25 most populous counties in Texas.

“So why shouldn’t we fix it? We try to cure cancer, diabetes, even texting while driving,” she said. “But we largely ignore the impact that suicide has on our society, the number of lives it takes and affects. More than just the one lost to us is hurt by suicide. And this hurt can turn into illness, too.”

Keenan pointed to a growing list of organizations looking to improve mental health outcomes in the area, and implored others to support their efforts.

“It’s time for the stigma to end, and that end starts with us,” she said. “Everyone here today is here for a reason. We all understand how important this is.”

If you or someone you love are suffering from suicidal ideation, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


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