Thursday was World Suicide Prevention Day. Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley marked the date by unveiling an expansion of a program designed to prevent deaths from suicide. He says the numbers are growing at an “unsettling” rate.
“The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office stated that current trends show we will likely surpass last year’s numbers for suicides, stating that there were 23 suicides last month alone," he says.
Crowley says mental health-related deaths such as suicide and overdoses have been affecting communities of color in particular during the coronavirus pandemic. He says the program he’s expanding, known as the Crisis Assessment and Response Team or CART, is a partnership between the Behavioral Health Division and the sheriff’s office.
“These expanded CART teams will pair our BHD mental health clinicians with law enforcement officers to respond to situations when individuals call 911 and ask for mental health services or to identify that mental health symptoms might be present. This partnership focuses on increasing public safety through thoughtful collaboration to bring more resources to those who have been historically underserved and unable to access the mental health services that they need in Milwaukee County," Crowley says.
The program was implemented in the city of Milwaukee in 2013. The $500,000 cost to expand the program to Milwaukee County will come from the Behavioral Health Division.