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'There is help, there is hope': In wake of high-profile suicides, mental health officials offer depression & addiction resources, crisis phone line


Fri, Jun 8th 2018 07:40 pm
Following the news Friday morning of a second celebrity suicide this week, mental health officials urged members of the public battling depression, addiction and suicidal thoughts that Niagara County offers resources including a crisis telephone line.
Niagara County lawmaker Becky Wydysh said news of the death of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain had hit particularly close to home.
"I saw Anthony speak at Shea's about five years ago. His talk was engaging - he was funny, but there were moments of raw truth about his years growing up in the culinary world and his struggles with cocaine and heroin addiction," said Wydysh, who chairs the county's opioid addiction/overdose strategy implementation standing committee, or OASIS.
Laura Kelemen, the county's director of mental health, noted she had read Bourdain's books, which detailed drug and alcohol addiction in addition to culinary world travels.
"Even people at the top of their game - and sometimes, especially those people - have to battle addiction, depression and thoughts of harming themselves," Kelemen said. "Our message to our neighbors, to our friends, to people who are struggling, is that 'There is help, there is hope.' " The phrase has become a tagline for anti-addiction and -depression efforts in the past year, including radio ads touting the crisis services phone line.
Bourdain's death in France followed another suicide by designer Kate Spade earlier in the week.
Wydysh shared an article published this morning in the Chicago Tribune that included key insights about suicide. That article began with these words: "The list of warning factors for suicide reads, in part, like a catalog of everyday modern ills: lagging self-esteem, depression, loss of relationships or economic security, insomnia.
" 'When you look at those lists,' says Eric Beeson, core faculty member at Northwestern University's [email protected], 'it almost seems like who's not a candidate for suicide?' "
"That's the reality we're battling here in Niagara County," Wydysh said. "Depression and addiction are awful things, and they cut across social strata. They impact the poor and prosperous, the struggling and successful. We want people who are struggling to understand that they're not alone and to get access to the counseling and answers they need to get their lives back on track."
Kelemen urged individuals struggling with issues including suicidal thoughts to consider contacting the county's crisis services phone line or to contact the Department of Mental Health directly.
The crisis services phone line is available at 716-285-3515 and is staffed 24 hours a day.
The Mental Health Department can be reached at 716-439-7410 during regular business hours.

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