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County launches suicide-prevention bus campaign

Santa Clara County hopes to highlight its suicide and crisis prevention hotline

The Santa Clara County Mental Health Department this week launched a campaign to raise awareness about suicide prevention, displaying on 16 Valley Transportation Authority buses the message "Give up? Not on your life" with the phone number for the county's suicide and crisis hotline written underneath.

Depending on the bus route, the message reads in English, Spanish, Vietnamese or Chinese.

"More people die from suicide than from homicide in Santa Clara County," Nancy Pena, director of the Santa Clara County Mental Health Department, said in a press release. "While every death is tragic, we know when it comes to suicide, these deaths are preventable."

In 2013 there were 149 suicides and 56 homicides in Santa Clara County, according to the press release.

"The people who died from suicide came from every city in our county, all income levels, and a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds," the press release states. "The ages of people who died from suicide ranged from 15 years old to 93 years old."

"No matter what problems a person is dealing with, Hotline crisis counselors want to help them find a reason to keep living," said Vic Ojakian, co-chair of the county's Suicide Prevention Oversight Committee. "Things can change and no one has to suffer in silence. This is a great resource and people need to know about it."

If a person feels that they are in a crisis, whether or not they are thinking about killing themselves, they can call 1-855-278-4204 and reach a crisis counselor. All calls are confidential, and this free service is available 24/7. People have called for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness and even loneliness.

Elena Kadvany

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