ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – It was a good news story, that’s even better the next day.
On Tuesday, a quick thinking Arlington police officer enlisted the help of a big rig to save a teenage boy who appeared to be preparing to jump off the Kelly Elliott Bridge spanning I-20. When the teenager jumped, that trailer had just pulled into place and the teen was not injured. Now, a day later, calls to a local suicide prevention hotline are up — perhaps saving others who are struggling.
“When we are living it, that feeling of being overwhelmed, feeling hopeless and helpless, is what leads people to start thinking about ending their life,” says Jenyce Gush, Director of Program Services at the Suicide Crisis Center of North Texas.
We may never know what struggles put that teenager on an overpass looking to end his life; but, Gush says the family is no doubt filled with both relief and guilt. So she shares these words of comfort: “people let you see what they want you to see… and people are masters at hiding.”
So she is now encouraging others to use this teenager’s rescue as an opportunity to tackle a difficult issue with an amazing simple start: communication.
“Asking questions,” says Gush, “‘how are you feeling?’ and not being afraid to ask somebody: ‘are you thinking about suicide?’ Just ask them, and it gives them an opportunity to talk about something that’s probably very scary.”
Meanwhile, Margie Barilla speaks matter of fact manner about the childhood trauma at age 11, that she says pushed her to consider suicide.
“It was multiple times that I was sexually abused,” she says, by someone close to her family, “and my parents started seeing the isolation… I started cutting and before you knew it, it was downhill from there.”
Fast forward a few decades and Barilla, founder of Elevate Healthcare, has opened three mental health clinics in underserved communities with plans to open a dozen more. She says she wants to make the mental health support that saved her life, available to others.
“If there is a liquor store or a dental clinic on every corner,” says Barilla, “why can’t we have an outpatient mental health clinic on every corner?”
More mental health resources are always welcome as suicide rates rise nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans.
“I always think there’s hope,” says Gush. “And you know what? 24 hours can make all the difference in the world between life and death.”
The center’s crisis hotline is answered 24 hours a day. Anyone in crisis or needing help is encouraged to call 214-828-1000.