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Strive to help others in their hour of need

Across the state of New York, indeed the entire United States, there is growing awareness of the crisis that is occurring in the area of mental health. An increase in mental health awareness is good, and if it results in additional financial support, all the better.

In the interim, we will recognize and honor those heroes who, at times, bridge the gaps in our mental health continuum of programs and services. Heroes such as Darnell J. Barton must be recognized for their good deeds. By now, many of us have heard and seen the remarkable actions of Barton toward a young woman in crisis. Yes, Barton is a hero, but even more importantly, and in his very words, he is a “helper” – a person who acted in the face of a mental health crisis.

At Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service (Crisis Services), that is precisely what we ask from everyone. The function of preventing suicide extends beyond our outreach efforts. Like Barton, we all need to be more willing, not hesitant, to help others when the need presents itself. During difficult economic times, the prevention of suicide and/or the response to escalating mental health concerns undergoes a double hardship. Not only is financial support on the decline, but the mental health need outpaces our ability to respond, particularly for our very young and our aging adults. While we professionals attempt to respond to the mounting individual crises fueled by anxiety and depression, Barton’s actions resounded in our community and reminded us that people are not above or below helping others. We should all strive to be helpers.

Douglas B. Fabian

Executive Director, Crisis Services

Member, Suicide Prevention

Coalition of Erie County