Today, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan by Supervisor Andrew Do and Supervisor Lisa Bartlett to establish an Office of Suicide Prevention in Orange County.
“Suicide prevention requires everyone to step up and take action,” said Supervisor Do, who has focused on reforming the County’s mental health system since taking office in 2015.
The office, established within the OC Health Care Agency’s Behavioral Health Department, will work to combat the rising number of suicides. As indicated in the 2014-2018 Suicide Deaths in Orange County Report, 1,648 suicide deaths of Orange County residents were reported within the five year period. This translates to approximately 330 suicides per year, with 2018 reaching an all-time high of 369 suicides.
“The Office of Suicide Prevention will deliver help to those struggling with mental health challenges,” Supervisor Do added.
In 2018, the OC Board of Supervisors approved a contract with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to create a countywide Warmline Service that provides non-crisis live chat and texting services to any Orange County resident needing support for behavioral health issues.
The following year, the Orange County Board of Supervisors allocated $600,000 of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding to MindOC, the non-profit chosen by the Board to lead the BeWellOC mental health public-private partnership, to create a countywide Suicide Prevention Initiative.
The Office of Suicide Prevention will collaborate with MindOC to implement the Community Suicide Prevention Initiative’s action plan and develop a community-driven approach to prevent deaths by suicide in Orange County.
The framework of the Initiative’s Action Plan has four elements:
- Reaching out to high-risk populations to find and engage those in need
- Maintaining contact with those in need and support continuity of care
- Improving the lives of those in need through comprehensive services and supports
- Building community awareness, reducing stigma, and promoting help-seeking
“Individuals with serious mental illnesses not only struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from the disease itself but are also defied by the stereotypes that result from the misconceptions around mental health,” said Supervisor Do.
In March of this year, the Board approved an agreement for Suicide Prevention and Support Services that includes a toll-free confidential 24/7 suicide prevention hotline service available in multiple languages.
Those in need of support can call the Hotline at 800-273-8255. For more information, check out the Crisis Prevention Hotline website.