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Hope and Help are Available

Cape Cod Times (Click Here to Read More at the Cape Cod Times)
October 26, 2011


The Oct. 18 story about Truro Police Chief John Lundborn is tragic on so many levels: for him and his family, for his fellow officers, for the town of Truro and for Cape Cod. The quote in your headline, “My life is over,” attributed to Chief Lundborn, was particularly chilling for those of us who work in the suicide awareness and prevention field. We understand the despair such a statement implies.

But we also know that hope is possible and that those who find themselves experiencing anguish or depression can be helped to cope with these difficult feelings.

Depression is often presented as anger, agitation or aggressive behavior. Alcohol or substance abuse often accompanies depression and can lead to self-destructive behavior. People of all ages, ethnic origins and walks of life get depressed. At each stage in life, people face stressful changes and events that may lead to depression.

Fortunately, help is available. The following hotlines, which are free and confidential, are available 24/7:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.
  • Veteran’s Crisis Line: 800-273-8255; press 1.
  • Samaritans of Cape & Islands: 800-893-9900 or 508-548-8900.
  • Those in crisis who require immediate assistance may call the Department of Mental Health Cape and Islands Crisis Hotline at 800-322-1356 or the Cape Cod Healthcare Psychiatric Assessment Team (PAT) at 800-513-4728. Both offer a mobile team of licensed mental health professionals experienced in crisis intervention. They provide crisis assessment and referrals for mental health or chemical dependency issues.
  • In a non-emergency situation, a call to one’s health insurance company can provide a list of mental health providers who are able to help and whose fees are covered in whole or part. For those without health insurance, or without the means to pay their co-pays and deductibles, call the Department of Mental Health at 800-322-1356.

We know that stigma about depression and addictions is a major obstacle to seeking help, in particular for men. Asking for help isn’t easy to begin with, and men are often taught that asking for it is a sign of weakness, that they should “suck it up” or just “get over” their pain. The truth is, it takes a great deal of courage to face problems. It is also true that all of us, at one time or another, need the support and empathy of others to survive tough times in our lives.

There is also misinformation about the effectiveness and value of mental health and addictions treatment that prevents people from seeking help. Depression and addictions are treatable diseases with success rates the equal of many other chronic conditions. One California study showed that each dollar spent on treatment saves seven additional dollars in reduced crime and health care costs. Put simply, treatment improves and saves lives.

The Cape and Islands Suicide Prevention Coalition, in conjunction with the Barnstable County Department of Human Services, has been conducting the “Real Men, Real Depression” public education program to reduce the stigma of acknowledging depression and seeking help. Our message is that hope and help are available.

Beth Albert and Tim Line-

aweaver are co-chairmen of the Cape and Islands Suicide Prevention Coalition. Candace Perry is a community organizer for Barnstable County Suicide Prevention.