COMPASSIONATE WORK — Leticia Chavez, 49, believes in a proactive effort in talking to people about their depression and anxiety because “…if we don’t ask, we’re not going to know.”

SUNNYSIDE — September is National Suicide Prevention Month but for Leticia Chavez of Comprehensive Healthcare in Sunnyside, preventing death by suicide and bringing awareness to family members in a bid to break the stigma around mental illness is something she faces on a daily basis.

Acknowledging the stigma, Chavez conveyed, “Most families want their family members to be healthy, it’s like going to the doctor,” Chavez compared. Diligently working on family outreach, the 17-year Comprehensive Healthcare employee believes that the more education the patient and family members receive, the more effective getting healthier is.

Chavez, team leader and bilingual therapist for the healthcare service, revealed statistics given from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that left her shocked; suicide is the second leading cause of death from people from just 10 to 34 years old.

“It’s always kind of sad because people die, and we can’t reach them all,” Chavez sorrowfully added. Looking at the numbers provided by the CDC has motivated Chavez and her team to work harder to turn around the rates of death by suicide.

One of the proactive measures Comprehensive Healthcare has taken is handing out flyers with the phrase “Como Estas? (How Are You?)”

The flyer states “Whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone,” in English and in Spanish, proving a crisis line to those who need immediate help at 800-572-8122 and the number for Comprehensive Healthcare at 509-575-4084.

Washington state is also making their efforts in their efforts to provide helpful tips in being vigilant in suicide prevention, especially during the increased stress, anxiety, and depression brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They encourage families to learn to recognize the warning signs, empathize with the person one is concerned about, ask them if they are thinking about suicide, and if they say yes, remove the danger or the method they’re thinking of using. Help them call or text a crisis line so they can talk with certified professionals.

Chavez agreed that directly asking is the best way to know for sure how someone is feeling. “I think that’s one of the biggest things that people are scared of. ‘What happens if they say they are, what am I going to do?’” She encouraged, “..If we don’t ask, we’re not going to know.”

Additional helplines are the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or chat online. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

For support via text on the Crisis Text Line, start a conversation by texting “HEAL” to 741741.

Elizabeth Sustaita can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email

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