Peace of Mind Conference aims to end the stigma surrounding mental health to save lives

Value Life

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Suicide rates in Texas are almost as high as the overall suicide rate across the country. But worse than that, Some of our East Texas counties account for a big percentage of that number.

That’s why Samaritan Counseling Center of East Texas combined with several local organizations come together each year for the Peace of Mind Conference.

The all-day event is filled with speakers and a huge offering of resources surrounding mental illness, specifically those that lead to suicide.

Vanita Halliburton spoke at this year’s event. She shared her son, Grant’s story, about his battle with depression and bipolar disorder. His life ended in tragedy in 2006.

“Grant Halliburton jumped to his death from a 10-story building a block from home,” said Halliburton. “I tell this story every time I speak to an audience, I’ve told it hundreds, thousands of times. And I tell it not because it’s a unique story, but because it is becoming all too common.”

Attendee Thomas Haywood say’s his life was turned upside down last year.

“After being married for 51 years, my precious wife died in june of 2018,” said Haywood.

The woman he lovingly calls his “bright star” succumbed to cancer and Haywood, a mental health professional, found himself in a vulnerable state.

“I had thoughts that I knew were not healthy, but as a counselor, I knew that I didn’t have a plan, I wasn’t going to take my life,” said Haywood. “But we’re living in a place right now in our culture where I’m convinced that if we don’t talk about this in more of a open way, then we’re going to have more people that will end up taking their life.”

And many in our area believe access to healthcare and the stigma surrounding mental health care are directly affecting just how high suicide rates are in east Texas.

Gregg County, for example, sits at a rate of 15 suicide deaths per 100-thousand people for about the past 20 years.

The average rate for texas overall during that same period was 11.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 people.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or needs to talk to someone, there are resources available.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255 or chat online with someone by clicking on the above link.

Text 741-741 to talk to someone by text.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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