By Evan Casey
Wisconsin, and Milwaukee, are not immune to the large rise in suicides and attempted suicides we hear about almost every day. Suicide rates in Wisconsin are up nearly 26 percent from 1999 to 2016, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, there is hope. Milwaukee County offers numerous services to citizens or loved ones who are thinking about suicide. The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division (BHD) connects individuals to the appropriate resources if they are facing a mental health crisis. One of BHD’s resources is a 24/7 crisis line. A mental health professional will help assist and de-escalate any situation through the crisis line, which can be reached at 414-257-7222.
Dr. Sara Coleman, a clinical psychologist with BHD, said that one of the best things others can do for those who might be struggling with suicide is to “take someone seriously.” She said socioeconomic factors can contribute to the increase of suicide.
“When someone brings up that topic it can often make people anxious,” said Coleman. “There’s also a belief that if they talk about it, that they won’t do it, but that’s not true. When someone starts talking about it, that should be a lightbulb moment where you should say ‘I should take this seriously.’”
Dr. Coleman said that if someone is suicidal in the moment, it is best to call 911 right away. She also said that doing something as simple as locking up a gun in your home can be important as well, as “securing any means” for a suicide attempt can be an important step to saving someone’s life.
Milwaukee also has two crisis resource centers, located at 5409 W. Villard St. and 2057 S. 14th St. These centers are designed to “provide assessment, stabilization, supportive, and recovery services,” according to their website. Milwaukee also offers a Crisis Assessment Response Team (CART) where a clinician and police officer respond to a situation where intervention may be needed.
In 2017 alone, “CART responded to more than 1,200 calls for service that led to more than 600 direct interactions. From those interactions, 89.6% of people were able to get connected to resources voluntarily, avoiding emergency detention or hospitalization,” according to the BHD. Almost all Milwaukee Police Officers are now trained in CIT Training as well, or Crisis Intervention Training.
The BHD made it very clear that they will turn no one away, regarding financial status. Dr. Coleman often sees patients who have already attempted suicide. For Dr. Coleman, success is seeing her patients who have attempted suicide live healthy, meaningful lives, taking measures to manage their suicidal thoughts.