Addressing the growing suicide rates in Onondaga County


ONONDAGA COUNTY, NY. (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga County has some of the most startling suicide rates in the state and while the numbers increase, funding seems to be flatlining. That’s why Senator Chuck Schumer paid a visit to Syracuse Monday afternoon, standing alongside advocates, all calling for change.

The suicide rate in Onondaga County is troubling with numbers skyrocketing compared to the rest of the state. From 2013 to 2017, an average of 49 people died by suicide each year.

Cheryl Giarrusso deals with the issue every day, fielding calls from those unsure whether they want to live anymore.

“I just think people are alone, I think again with social media and all our connections to electronics, people are not talking face to face anymore,” said Giarrusso, Director of Crisis Intervention services for CONTACT.

Over the last decade, the crisis of intervention services has seen a spike in calls, many addicted to opioids and heroin. Those on the other end of the line say the stigma that used to stop people from reaching out is slowly fading.

“It’s a very big public health issue and one that is completely preventable if we allow people the place and the time to talk,” Giarrusso said.

The growing epidemic becoming all too real for the City of Syracuse two weeks ago, when a mother took her own life and the lives of her three children. Hitting the community, and its leaders hard.

“I just couldn’t help but think as I stood there on site, that we owe it to our constituents, to our community, to do better, we have to do better,” said Mayor Ben Walsh, of the City of Syracuse.

This group fighting for change. More funding on a local, federal, and state level, and a focus on prevention, targeting kids and teens.

“Talking with people about their well-being, their general well being and getting as specific as thoughts, feelings about suicide,” said Alicia Clifford, a Clinical Team Leader for Liberty Resources.

Senator Chuck Schumer laying out a three-part plan in his visit to Syracuse this afternoon. He’s asking Congress for more funding, looking to pass legislation to bring more doctors into the mental health field and focusing on suicide prevention for kids and teens.

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