The message on Saturday was simple.

“We want to give people hope,” organizer Diana Bonds said. “We want to give people support. We want to let people know that there’s — There is somebody out there that wants to help you that you haven’t even met yet.”

The 11th annual Save a Life Today (SALT) Suicide Prevention Walk took place in the surrounding neighborhoods and at the Carthage Junior High School track on Saturday morning, with a small group of supporters helping to raise awareness about the issue and resources that can help those struggling.

Bonds shared how her little sister died by suicide and the struggles her family faced afterward.

“We didn’t know a thing,” Bonds said. “We didn’t know why. We didn’t know what happened. We didn’t know how. We went through, I think, probably all the normal things. We went through the guilt — why didn’t I know? We went through ‘I know there’s somebody to blame. I’ve got to find out who I can blame.’

“I thought something positive has to happen,” Bonds said. “This should never happen to families.”

What should you do if you are having suicidal thoughts?

Please know that you are not alone and that help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also call local behavioral health services, which in Panola County is Community Healthcore at 800-832-1009.

What are the warning signs for suicide?

Warning signs can include a preoccupation with death and dying; a recent severe loss or threat of loss; a sense of hopelessness about the future; increased use of alcohol or drugs; previous suicide attempts; uncharacteristic impulsiveness or recklessness; giving away prized possessions; a loss in interest in personal appearance; drastic changes in behavior or personality; or appearing depressed or sad.

What can I do if I suspect someone is having suicidal thoughts?

Think REACH:

  • Recognize the Signs. If you are in doubt if the signs are there, act as if they are.
  • Engage the Person. Don’t ignore the sign you have recognized.
  • Ask Directly. This lets a person know you take the situation seriously and want to help. You won’t ‘plant’ the idea of suicide.
  • Connect with Resources. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or local community resources.
  • Help the Person.

Stay with them if they are in crisis. Help them connect with resources.

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Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.