PASADENA, Texas - September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34 in the U.S. and Texas.
Sandra Ramirez of Pasadena knows the heartbreak of losing a child. In 2009, her 16-year-old son, Tory, died by suicide.
"It was a shock to all of us. It wasn't expected. He was just the most outgoing kid," Sandra told FOX 26.
The pain was unbearable, especially for Tory's older brother, Paul, who was 17-years-old at the time.
"He was with me when we found Tory," Sandra said.
Paul was diagnosed with depression and post traumatic stress disorder. Sandra says her family did counseling together and Paul was also getting mental health help individually.
"It got to a point where some of his friends made fun of him for seeking mental help. So, he just stopped altogether going and said he didn't need it no more," Sandra recalled.
But almost four years after Tory died, Sandra and her husband came home and found a note on the coffee table.
"I guess you're traumatized already and so something like that just triggers the first worst thought. And that was my thought; it's a suicide note," Sandra said wiping tears. She says the suicide note revealed Paul was still struggling.
"He did say, he still wasn't doing better, he just didn't want to worry us. He loved us. He knew that we loved him," she added.
Paul joined her the first Out of Darkness walk. This year, she's leading the one in Pasadena. She's on a mission to help parents learn about suicide prevention.
The American Federation for Suicide Prevention breaks down the warning signs into behaviors, mood, and talk.
"Some of the behaviors that Paul showed were, he withdrew from a lot of his friends for a while," Sandra explained.
Other behaviors include: increased use of alcohol or drugs, sleeping too much or too little, and giving away prized possessions.
As for mood, someone considering suicide often show depression, anxiety, loss of interest, shame, anger, and relief or sudden improvement.
As for talk, Sandra explains what someone might say.
"They're trying to get back on their feet. They can't so they just feel like they're a burden. Things aren't going to change. Talking about killing themselves. They have no reason to live. Just feeling trapped," she said.
If you notice any of these signs in your children, talk to them. She says let them know you're worried about them and that you care.
"It's okay to ask, are you thinking about suicide? There's this mentality that if you ask, then they're going to start thinking about. If you're at the point where you're asking about it, they're probably already thinking about it," Sandra added.
"You have to let them know, hey I know about suicide, too. And I know when burdens become too big, people think about it, but there's nothing too big that we can't handle together," Sandra noted.
Sandra says if they say they have thought about suicide, follow up with -- have you thought of how you would do that? If they say, yes, she says seek help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention LifeLine can help connect you with resources.
"Take your kids serious. Don't let any of these stigmas or anybody else's opinion halt you from seeking the help that you need for your children," Sandra concluded.
The Out of the Darkness walk in Pasadena is Saturday, September 25 at Burke Crenshaw Park. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. There will be counselors on-site.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelife at 1-800-273-8255.