Fishers evaluates its mental health initiative

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness speaks July 24, 2017, at a suicide informational luncheon in the Hamilton County city. (WISH Photo)

FISHERS, Ind (WISH) — This city has seen three homicides in 20 years.

Compare that to the suicide numbers; 11, and that is just for last year alone.

Those numbers prompted the city of Fishers to make mental health a priority.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness launched a citywide initiative in 2015. On Monday, leaders met during a luncheon to evaluate the effort. Leaders called the initiative special and believe it has the potential to be a national model. By involving schools, police and fire, the city and mental health experts, they hope to put a dent in suicides.

“On July 3, Studio 6 (hotel), a male subject reported to be depressed and suffers from schizophrenia was feeling down and was seeking help,” Mayor Fadness read from suicide-related reports.

He continued, “On July 5, complainant reported her daughter was sending suicidal messages to her that were concerning.”

The city saw seven suicide-related calls last week, and that only includes the most serious calls.

“If a community were to marshal its collective resources toward this issue, what can we do and what should we do? That is the 2-1/2 year journey that the city of Fishers has been on,” Fadness said.

The mayor and other community leaders put together a plan that focuses on nine objectives, including;

  • Education for police and fire.
  • Quarterly audits on mental health runs.
  • Enhancing the city’s partnership with behavioral health providers.
  • Developing plans for schools.

“We went into a contract with Community Health Network in January of this year. So, they have been able to provide free risk screening assessments to our students, if the parents are interested in that,” said Brooke Lawson, mental health coordinator for Hamilton Southeastern Schools.

Fishers police and fire are collaborating in data sharing. Fire Chief Steven Orusa said it’s an effort to come up with better decisions and solutions to the problem.

“We count the number of fires, the number of heart attacks, the number of motor vehicle accidents, the number of gunshot wounds, but we weren’t tracking mental health,” Orusa said.

Although it’s too early to tell what impact this initiative has had on the city, Fadness is optimistic.

“We’re continuing to learn every single day. We don’t know what we don’t know. Two to three years from now, we’ll look back and see if we made a significant different in the lives of those people living in quiet despair,” the mayor said.

Although Fishers reported 11 suicides last year, experts say suicides often go unreported.

For help or information, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255.

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