Texas veteran commits suicide in Virginia parking lot after seeking help

EL PASO, TX (KTSM) — El Paso veteran Rob Renz is described as a true Texan gentleman who passed away after killing himself in the parking lot of the El Paso Veterans Affairs facility Jan. 10.

Renz’s mother told KTSM 9 News that her son tried to get help because he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, tinnitus and insomnia.

“I hope Rob’s death brings attention to a serious issue and helps other veterans get the help they deserve,” Nikki, Rob Renz’s mother, said on a GoFundMe created for the family.

GoFundMe reports that Rob Renz turned to the VA the day he died for help.

“He must have felt there was no end in sight and shot himself in the parking lot,” GoFundMe says.

El Paso, Virginia’s chief health officer spoke to KTSM about Renz’s tragic death.

“The tragic event last week that happened on El Paso’s main campus really impacted all of us in El Paso, Virginia, including our workforce, including our veteran patients, and the veterans community at large,” said Froy Garza, Executive Director of the University of Virginia. El Paso Health System, Virginia.

El Paso VA is offering same-day crisis assistance at all facilities, and U.S. military veterans in a suicidal crisis will be eligible for free assistance starting Tuesday. They can get help at any Department of Veterans Affairs facility or private facility.

Dr. Emilia Candelario, chief of behavioral health in El Paso, Va., said it’s important for veterans to say they’re in a crisis.

“We want to emphasize that there is no wrong door for getting mental health care here. Patients can go anywhere, to any of our facilities, and ask for emergency care and let them know that anyone they end up seeing knows they need help urgently,” said Dr. Emilia Candelario, Head of Behavioral department. Department of Health in El Paso, Virginia.

While same-day care is available for veterans in a suicidal crisis, Virginia El Paso said it is working to reduce waiting times for new patients for general mental health.

“For new patients coming in for general mental health, we expect about 45 days of waiting time,” Garza said.

Garza said wait times are shrinking as El Paso VA has been working on recruiting for the number of hired employees since June 2022.

“Our behavioral health leaders were able to select over 50 new hires and recruit over 30 of them,” Garza said.

The crisis veterans hotline can be called by dialing 9-8-8 and pressing the number one. El Paso VA said friends and family members can also call the hotline if they know a veteran who is in crisis.

(KXAN contributed to this report)

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