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"We've got work to do"; Milwaukee Co. on pace for record number of suicides

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With more than 100 days until the new year, Milwaukee County is well on its way to logging a record number of suicides.

So far in 2017, 102 people have died from suicide, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

That's more than in all of 2015 (99), and nearly as many as all of last year (114). 

"We don't know why," says Dr. Steven Dykstra. "It's not local, it's a national trend."

Dykstra runs the county's Mobile Urgent Treatment Team, which provides crisis intervention. 

Dykstra says it's difficult to pinpoint a specific reason, but cites social media as a possible cause for the increase in young girls committing suicide. 

He says they've been following the trend, and working to reverse it.

"These feelings and events aren't the end of it," he says. "People recover all the time."

Gena Orlando knows this well - She runs an annual suicide awareness walk called "Out of the Darkness"

"When I was younger, I lost a couple of good friends to suicide," she said. "We want them to know that they're not alone, that there are resources available, that there's help out there."

She says the walk has grown over the years, drawing nearly 1,000 people last year. She says the growing suicide numbers speak to the importance of the event. 

"We've got a lot of work to do," she said. "We still have a long ways to go, but we're going to get there, and we'll just work that much harder to do so." 

What you can do 

Dykstra says the first step in stopping suicide is paying attention to those around you. If someone seems upset or distraught, reach out and ask if they're okay.

"Hope doesn't seem real when you feel that bad, and we want to get them through those things and start to recover so that hope feels real again." 

If you or a loved one needs help, you can speak to someone at the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division by calling 414-257-7222.

More Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or Lifeline Chat

Veterans Crisis Line - 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)

LGBTQ Crisis Line - 1-866-488-7386

Teen Line - 310-855-4673

HopeLine Text Service - Text HOPELINE to 741741

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Suicide Prevention Resources 

Prevent Suicide Wisconsin

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