New West Texas Counseling & Guidance Program Focuses on Suicide Prevention


Previously, we published at San Angelo LIVE! a story about the suicide problem in San Angelo and in Tom Green county, as the county holds suicide rates that are above state average.

Many organizations in the area are attempting to curb suicide by intensifying prevention, as a way to reduce the rates and to keep people from taking their own lives. A new program, designed by West Texas Counseling & Guidance, is aiming towards driving people away from suicide while adding value to life.

It’s not always easy to seek treatment, and the region’s culture usually creates some kind of stigma.

“This is the case in West Texas,” said Dusty McCoy, executive director for West Texas Counseling & Guidance. McCoy also emphasized the importance of advocates like Max Parker, a local attorney who shared his experience with the issue, by raising awareness about suicide, saying that “it’s just as okay to get a mental health treatment as it is to go treat your diabetes or your hypertension.”

The program has a team called LOSS, which consists of training for primary care physicians and other educators on how to detect mental health concerns and how to seek help.

That team is part of what is called “postvention,” which is a method of preventing suicide by considering several factors that lead to suicide, such as family history, which “increases our odds” and brings in “high risk” of deaths.

McCoy recalled that suicide is a cause of death which has “different elements,” such as “shame and guilt that aren’t associated to any other kind of sudden death.”

Another major differential the program offers is a faster recovery time than other methods.

According to McCoy, the program is “looking to reach out to the family members who have suffered a loss of a loved one by suicide, and hopefully, within 7 days, we’re creating a suicide survivors group.” That group brings down the recovery time to 30 days, “by going out and seeking out to those families.”

McCoy also said that “most suicide help programs usually take 4.5 years,” which is the opposite of the postvention program.

By the end of April, after training and formation of groups, McCoy said he hopes the program could start right away.

One important factor on the program is the participation of volunteers who already attempted suicide in order to provide a better approach, as well as to understand the victims better. McCoy maintained that “it’s much more receptive to talk to someone who’s been through this than either a therapist or health professional who sees somebody who failed.”

When it comes to the target patients, the program works with all ages, as suicide could affect anyone in the family, from children to grandparents. However, the program is giving special attention to teen suicides.

As part of the effort to reduce suicide rates in San Angelo, McCoy said he believes that education and awareness are important, so patients can be sure that “it is okay to come in and to receive mental treatment,” breaking the “stigma” of treatment, mainly caused by the West Texas Culture of independence that leads to a “’pull yourself by the ‘boot straps’ mentality.” For the story on suicide rates, click here. More information is also available at

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Source: New West Texas Counseling & Guidance Program Focuses on Suicide Prevention