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Health Department: Suicide is preventable and help is available

WAUKEGAN -- Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center encourages all people to share a message of hope: Suicide is preventable, and help is available in Lake County.

“Many people are facing added stress and anxiety during the pandemic, and deaths by suicide are trending higher in Lake County this year,” said Sam Johnson-Maurello, director of behavioral health at the Health Department. “So far this year, 55 Lake County residents have tragically died by suicide. Over the past several years, we have averaged 65 lives lost to suicide annually. Right now, we want every person to know that you are not alone, and help is available.”

The Lake County Health Department’s Crisis Care Program offers a free, confidential hotline for anyone experiencing a mental crisis or substance use issue at 847-377-8088. Counselors are also available in person at 3002 Grand Ave., Waukegan. People wishing to speak with a counselor can call or walk in, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“A mental health crisis could include overwhelming depression, thoughts of suicide, poor concentration, disturbing thoughts, or feeling out of control,” said Joe Tranchita, Crisis Care Program coordinator for the Health Department. “We can help you understand what is going on, help you explore your options, offer support, and refer you to the right resources.”

Another resource is Text-a-Tip, an anonymous text-communication system for youth who need help. The “Lake County Help” smartphone app, available for free download in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, allows you to send a message and get an immediate response from a licensed clinician.

In Lake County, anyone needing assistance finding mental health or substance use treatment, as well as food, shelter, rent or utility assistance, or other essential services can call 211 or text their zip code to 898211 to speak with someone who can help. For more information, visit the Lake County website.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an important resource for those who are having thoughts of suicide or people concerned for a loved one. The Lifeline provides free, 24/7 confidential support at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline is committed to advancing suicide prevention, along with improving crisis services.

Everyone can help prevent suicide. Learn more about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and five action steps you can use to help someone in need.

Another way to show your support is by participating in the Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force’s eighth annual 5K Walk for Awareness and Suicide Prevention. The event will be held virtually this year with a Facebook LIVE event on Saturday, Sept. 19. Visit the task force’s Facebook page or register for the walk on Eventbrite.

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