EDINBURG — Melissa Moreno and Melissa Zamora have been morning walking buddies for a long time. Both very different women, but both with a similarity in their past. Each has lost a loved one to suicide.
For Zamora, it was her father 32 years ago. For Moreno, it was her brother who took his own life February, 2011. And after 20 years of friendship, it still was a topic one couldn't share with the other during their morning walks.
"It happened to me, I missed to weeks, and we joined up, and I never acknowledged it. We just never talked about it," said Melissa Moreno, Suicide Survivor.
This is when both women began to notice a problem. It was an issue they believe is embedded in the Hispanic culture.
"People here in the valley don't talk about suicide. And you have the Mexican culture, you know the machismo, it is just nothing you are going to talk about outside of the family. This is something that stays inside the family," said Moreno.
So during these terrible points in their lives, both women suffered silently with their families.
"I think the issue that really came out to me, what the stigma of the shame that was attached. It's not like when somebody dies of cancer, where people can just say wow, what a hard way to die. But when it is suicide. It just shuts down, people shut down," said Moreno.
Suicide is more prevalent than most people think. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with one death happening every 14.2 minutes.
And dealing with the grief can sometimes mean needing medical or psychological help.
"I think it is important to get your own support system. Either in the form of friends or your family doctor, your minister, your priest. there are some support groups out there," said Dr. Jose Igoa, DHR Behavioral Center Medical Director.
But there are hardly any support groups in the RGV dedicated solely to suicide.
"There is no places to go for suicide survivors. There is a lot of grief groups, bereavement groups, support groups if you have lost a loved one to cancer. There is nothing specifically for survivors of suicide. And that in it's self is different," said Moreno.
Because of this, both Moreno and Zamora have decided to take a stand together to fight the silence surrounding suicide.
To do this, the two have organized a walk called Out of the Darkness Walk. It will take place November 17th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
For more information, please visit www.afspriograndevalley.org