September is Suicide Awareness Month and Deaconess Health System has partnered with the Evansville Police Department for a new initiative to let residents in the Tri-State who struggle with suicidal thoughts know there is someone in the area who cares and is ready to help.

The two organizations unveiled a new police cruiser featuring the local Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number on both sides, as well as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline on the back bumper. Our friend, Officer Taylor Merriss will use the car as her patrol vehicle.

While mental health has always been important, the COVID pandemic intensified that importance as many of us have struggled with feelings of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and fear among others, especially in the early days when nearly everything was canceled or closed, and we were forced to spend time away from our loved ones in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. According to statistics provided by Deaconess, "about 1 in 5 American adults lives with a mental health concern, and those numbers have increased during the pandemic."

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The good news is mental health programs are working to prevent people from making a decision they'll never return from. Deaconess says in Vanderburgh County, "fewer people have died by suicide this year than at the same point as last year. In the first 6 months of 2020, 39 people died by suicide; this year, from January through June, 18 people died by suicide." While that stat is promising, it shows there is still work to do.

Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

Often times we don't know when someone feels their situation is so dire they're considering ending their life. Deaconess says most people who have those types of thoughts generally display the following signs:

  • Hopelessness
  • Recklessness or self-destructive thoughts or behaviors
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, and society
  • Dramatic mood changes and outbursts
  • Sleeping changes—sleeping all the time or unable to sleep
  • Major changes in appetite or weight, or overall appearance
  • Giving away belongings or prized possessions

Where to Find Help

If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, there are people who want to help. Locally, you call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 812-422-1100, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text HELP to the National Textline at 741741.

*Disclaimer: 99.5 WKDQ along with our Townsquare Media sister stations, MY 105.3, 103GBF, KISS 106, and Newstalk 1280AM are sponsors of the vehicle.

See the Deaconess-Evansville Police Suicide Prevention Cruiser

The police cruiser is a joint effort between Deaconess Health Systems and the Evansville Police Department for the purpose of promoting suicide prevention options in the area.

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