EPD, Deaconess, and Evansville city leaders unveil new suicide prevention tool

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– Deaconess officials said suicide is the leading cause in death nationally among those in the age range of 15 and 24.

“Suicide is an avoidable tragedy every single time it happens and unfortunately we have an epidemic of those tragedies in our community and around the nation,” Deaconess president, Dr. James Porter, said.

These health experts reported Vanderburgh County saw 39 people died by suicide in the first six months of 2020. They also reported the first six months of 2021, 19 individuals took their life. Officials said there are signs- such as changes in behavior, sleeping patterns, and more to look for in someone. At a press conference today, Evansville mayor Lloyd Winnecke opened up about unexpected deaths.

“The kick in the gut to me, was when my mom called and said that my cousin died by suicide in rural southern Illinois. I am sure that he felt he was alone and I’m sure he was not aware of the resources available,” Winnecke said.

Resources the city, EPD, and Deaconess have gathered together to share. Now, an EPD cruiser dedicated to suicide prevention awareness will be driving the streets of local communities. It’s something EPD special projects coordinator Taylor Merriss said will be a tool to help people.

“I’ve talked to so many people recently who know somebody that’s committed suicide, have had family members that have contemplated it. It seems the more that I am talking about it, the more people have been affected- they’ve just been silent about it,” Merriss said.

This car speaking volumes on a topic recognized throughout the month of September. Merriss said this car shines a light on a dark topic long after September ends.

“But every day that I get to drive this vehicle will be a poster board for suicide prevention and I look forward to being able to do that,” Merriss said.

If you or a loved one are in crisis, you can call suicide prevention hotlines at 812-422-1100 or 800-273-TALK. Someone is available to speak 24/7

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