OC Board Funds Suicide Prevention Effort

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County supervisors today approved spending $600,000 for a mental health program aimed to preventing suicide.

The funding of the MindOC program was prompted by ``an alarming trend of suicide rates in Orange County,'' said Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett.

``Orange County has seen higher increases of people taking their lives,'' Bartlett said, adding that the county's teen suicide rate has outstripped the state average.

``This is totally unacceptable and we need to take action,'' Bartlett said.

The county has also been struggling with suicide rates among veterans as well, Bartlett said.

``Roughly half (of suicide victims) have never had access to mental health care,'' Bartlett said. ``We need to do more.''

The program is aiming to create an ``impactful campaign to engage the public at large so we can reverse this trend and save lives,'' she said. ``Simply put... we want all 3.3 million people in Orange County to be aware that if someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis we have the resources to help.''

Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do noted that a ``close friend of mine had a suicide in his family'' recently, and, he added, ``It was a tough time for all of us.''

Do said there is ``still very much a stigma'' about suicide, which discourages people struggling with mental health issues from seeking help.

The program will ``effectively target parents and students to talk about suicide prevention and to talk about the triggers that lead to those thoughts,'' Do said. ``It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. In fact, it is a sign of strength and we are here to help.''

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