In 2012, there were 38 suicides in Erie County; in 2013, there were 49. In perspective, there were six homicides in 2013.
With those numbers, and the confirmed suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams, local mental health experts want to raise awareness about mental illness and suicide prevention.
"Major depression, like many other mental illnesses, is a no-fault disease, just like diabetes is," said Jon Evans, president and CEO of Safe Harbor Behavioral Health.
To get that treatment, the stigma surrounding mental illness needs to be knocked down.
"Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that exists right here in our Erie community, but treatment works, recovery is possible, and suicide is preventable," said Denise Kolivoski, executive director of NAMI of Erie County.
To help those in need, there are resources available.
Safe Harbor has a crisis services center and hotline: 2560 W 12th St, 814-456-2014 and it is open 24 hours a day at no charge.
NAMI has free classes beginning in September for families and individuals who are dealing with mental illness. The Family-to-Family class begins Wednesday, September 24, and the Peer-to-Peer class beings Tuesday, September 16.
Both classes are free and open to the public. For more information call NAMI at 456-1773.
Also, the National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
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