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County launches suicide-prevention bus campaign

Santa Clara County hopes to highlight its suicide and crisis prevention hotline

The Santa Clara County Mental Health Department this week launched a campaign to raise awareness about suicide prevention, displaying on 16 Valley Transportation Authority buses the message "Give up? Not on your life." with the phone number for the county's suicide and crisis hotline written underneath.

Depending on the bus route, the message reads in English, Spanish, Vietnamese or Chinese.

"More people die from suicide than from homicide in Santa Clara County," Nancy Pena, director of the Santa Clara County Mental Health Department, said in a press release. "While every death is tragic, we know when it comes to suicide, these deaths are preventable."

In 2013 there were 149 suicides and 56 homicides in Santa Clara County, according to the press release.

"The people who died from suicide came from every city in our county, all income levels, and a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds," the press release states. "The ages of people who died from suicide ranged from 15 years old to 93 years old."

"No matter what problems a person is dealing with, Hotline crisis counselors want to help them find a reason to keep living," said Vic Ojakian, co-chair of the county's Suicide Prevention Oversight Committee. "Things can change and no one has to suffer in silence. This is a great resource and people need to know about it."

If a person feels that they are in a crisis, whether or not they are thinking about killing themselves, they can call 1-855-278-4204 and reach a crisis counselor. All calls are confidential, and this free service is available 24/7. People have called for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness and even loneliness.

Elena Kadvany

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by mental health
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Various groups are asking that Bay Area cities spend hundreds of millions of dollars for suicide barriers on local bridges and train crossing. Unfortunately, by the time a barrier would be useful, the person's mental health has deteriorated far enough that barriers would have little value. Programs like this that reach out to people sooner make a lot of sense. I just hope that the same message is available more widely than just a few busses. How about TV commercials and video game ads?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2014 at 8:51 am

If someone calls the hotline, does a live person pick up the call immediately? I've heard there can be a significant wait time, which seems pretty sad. Hope the Weekly will inquire.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by helen
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Does our society allow a person to exit Life in a dignified way without having to resort to terrible acts like jumps, trains, guns or overdoses?

Yes, sometimes a mental condition can provoke desire to end it... but we know there are others who, for whatever reason, choose to go. Why make it a moral, religious or other issue, and assume you know what's best for an individual?

Might we open that conversation?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ken
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm

In response to Helen's comment. Every life is precious, no matter what age or condition. One could label my statement a moral one, a religious one, or whatever. But, unless I'm overly naive, I think we share that universal value/principle. Why else would we be spending millions of dollars right now in searching for a lost airliner with over 200 passengers and for saving a very sick child on the open sea??

My daughter's life was saved by the dedicated folks who run that hotline 24/7 and for their great work I will be eternally grateful! And, I might add, my personal, very desperate call got an immediate, life-saving answer that was coordinated with the national suicide and crisis hotline.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Helen
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 8, 2014 at 11:30 am

Ken, I appreciate your sentimentality, but as I said, beyond mental illness (another subject our society doesn't address or know what to do about) there are people with terminal illnesses, age, that it's been enough, and other reasons that make a person want to exit life. It is naive to even think it is a universal value. One can look around the world, read history, anthropology, anything beyond religious nonsense.
Not every life is precious, otherwise we wouldn't allow the inequity, injustice rained down on people. You sound like the anti-abortionist who don't care about or subsidize the unwanted fetus after it's born... yet vote for government regulation and spending against individual choice.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Former Suicidal
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Apr 8, 2014 at 11:51 am

Disregarding mental illness as the cause, I question the parenting of the family. If a child is nurtured and knows his family loves him, he will be able to turn to the parents and family for help in desperate times. He won't even have to turn to his family - his parents will already know intuitively that something is wrong. There are too many parents who are disconnected from their children or expect too much from them instead of appreciating them. They don't even talk with their teenagers! Just because the child can wipe his own a**, doesn't mean he no longer needs his parents' love and support. Even as adults, people want the love of their parents. Parents, start appreciating your kids instead of waiting for the day they move out of the house! Remember them as the babies they were, totally dependent on you. They still depend on you for support!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sometimes....
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm

When parents do things that are unforgivable, that can make a young person question their worth or reason for living.

After thirty years of trying to forgive the unforgivable, I figured out that I did not have to forgive the unforgivable. And that freed my soul.


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