If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please reach out to the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.

EAGLE PASS, Texas (KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced a Texas National Guard soldier took their own life.

In a letter from his office, the governor stated the solider “died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Eagle Pass,” a border community southwest of San Antonio. Abbott did not release the soldier’s name.

“Cecilia and I are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of a soldier with the Texas National Guard. Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the soldier,” Abbott said, in part, in a statement.

Abbott said Texas Rangers are investigating the death, and the Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety are coordinating with local law enforcement.

“I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the soldier’s family during this heartbreaking time. And for any Texan who is in crisis, we urge you to seek help immediately from a family member, loved one, or a mental health service,” Abbott continued on to say in his statement.

Though Abbott did not say which mission the soldier was part of, the Texas Tribune along with the Military Times reported the soldier was assigned to Operation Lone Star, a border security initiative launched by Abbott in March 2021.

The news organizations reported the soldier used his duty weapon during the suicide, which occurred Tuesday around 8:20 a.m.

The Texas Tribune said this suicide would be the first suspected suicide linked to Operation Lone Star since December 2021 and the fifth suspected suicide overall. It also reported two more soldiers died in accidental shootings, and another died while trying to save migrants who were drowning.

In a December interview, Davis Winkie with the Army Times helped shed light on the various stressors these soldiers face.

“For somebody who hasn’t had to put down their civilian life on that kind of notice, to go on a mission where you don’t know how long you’re going to be there. You don’t know if you’re going to be allowed to see your family regularly — that’s a really significant stressor,” Winkie told KXAN in that past interview.

Abbott’s office said support resources for military service members and veterans are available on the Texas Military Department website. Additional mental health help can be found on the Texas Health and Human Services site.

Robin Gardner, director of psychological health with TMD, said the department encourages service members to reach out to 988 but also to take advantage of the many other resources it offers. Gardner said there are counseling services spread across the state to support regions where members are present.

“This last summer we saw more service members calling us directly, more service members reaching out to their unit leadership and command teams,” said Gardner. “There were some conversations about, gosh our phone is ringing more, and what an opportunity. I think we can attribute that to a reduction in stigma. I think this organization and organizations across the country have worked very diligently to increase resources and access and the conversation about the need for additional mental health support and care.”

Experts say suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings is important to saving lives and also reaching out for help.

“The fact that we transitioned to 988 is going to make accessibility so much easier,” said Karen Duran, supervisor for Integral Care’s 24/7 crisis helpline. “Before it was remembering a whole 800 number, and now it is just three pushes of a button, and you are on the phone with someone that is going to be able to help you if you are struggling with emotional health or struggling with those suicidal ideations.”

Integral Care Resources

Integral Care: (512) 472-4357 – Press 1 for English, then 1 for immediate free emotional support
24 hours a day, 7 days a week | Interpreters available in many languages

Crisis Text Line: Text TX to 741741
Free emotional support via text | 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Integral Care Psychiatric Emergency Services: 1165 Airport Blvd., Austin 78702
Walk-in mental health urgent care

Richard E. Hopkins Behavioral Health Building, Second Floor
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. | Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
(Services available regardless of ability to pay)

988: Call or text 9-8-8 or chat 988lifeline.org
Three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24 hours a day, 7 days a week | Free confidential support in English and Spanish