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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Tuesday march to highlight holiday depression & suicide prevention

ASSMCA Administrator Dr. Carlos Rodríguez Mateo

John McPhaul

In order to prevent suicidal behavior, as well as reinforce the message among citizens of the importance of taking care of mental health, the Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA by its Spanish initials) will hold a march called “No Luches en Silencio” (Don’t Struggle in Silence) in San Juan on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

With actress Suzette Bacó and presenter Ramón “Gatto” Gómez as sponsors, the march will start at 8 a.m. on Paseo La Princesa and proceed to Bahía Urbana (Urban Bay). At the end, participants will enjoy a service fair, interactive stations and refreshments, along with performances by the Zona Tropical orchestra, the Caobana and VIP groups, the singers Gerardo Rivas and Dany, and the illusionist Jorge Noda, among other attractions. The activities on the grounds of Bahía Urbana will extend until 3 p.m. for the enjoyment of children, youth and adults.

In making the announcement, ASSMCA Administrator Dr. Carlos Rodríguez Mateo stressed that the No Luches en Silencio march is being held thanks to an alliance of the agency with the private sector, the administration of the Municipality of San Juan, and nonprofit organizations which, among other government entities, are committed to promoting the self-care and mental health of the Puerto Rican people, particularly in the context of the celebration of Christmas and New Year.

Rodríguez Mateo stressed that “although, traditionally, what reigns during the Christmas season is a festive atmosphere, of revelry, of sharing with family and loved ones, together with traditional food and gifts, at the same time there is another reality for Puerto Rican individuals and families who have a diagnosis of depression.”

“It is important to remember that a large percentage of the Puerto Rican population suffers from depression at this time of year,” he said. “In fact, depression can be so severe that it leads them to think of suicide as an alternative for ending their suffering, frustrations and loneliness. With this march, in addition to other education and guidance efforts we are making, we call on people with depression to know that they are not alone and that they have help available through ASSMCA. So we also want to carry the message of prevention and self-care for all Puerto Ricans.” said the administrator.

“We invite the Puerto Rican people to join this march, which ends in Bahía Urbana, with the purpose of saving lives and promoting mental health,” the island’s mental health czar added. “Despite increased research and knowledge about suicide and its prevention, taboo and stigma persist. It is estimated that, for each completed suicide, up to 20 attempts can occur. Many deaths from suicide can be avoided with support services, early identification, intervention and specialized management, services that we at ASSMCA have available and can offer.”

Every year, more than one million people take their own lives in the world. From 2000 to June 2022, a total of 6,568 deaths by suicide have been reported in Puerto Rico, for an annual average of 294 suicides.

The march is part of the No Lucha en Silencio initiative, an educational campaign by ASSMCA that encourages people to vent their emotions and seek help from mental health professionals, without fear of being judged or stigmatized.

The ASSMCA administrator reminded citizens of the availability of the PAS Line as an alternative for receiving guidance and counseling in difficult and unexpected situations that could affect their emotional state.

There are several ways to contact the professionals of the PAS Line. One is by phone at 9-8-8, 1-800-981-0023 or 1-888-672-7622 for people with hearing and speech impairments. Also, there is the mobile application that can be downloaded from Google Play and Apple Store. In this app, people will have the opportunity to maintain communication and openly share their concerns via text by chatting live through, in an environment of total confidentiality.

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