Sedgwick County calls for more mental health resources

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – There have been more than 4,000 suicide calls coming into the Sedgwick County 911 dispatch center each year for the past three years.

“It’s kind of shocking when you break it down by day, how many mental health calls we have,” said Lacey Cruse, Sedgwick County District 4 Commissioner.

The data Cruse has received over the past three years is divided into three main categories: suicide, psych (for those with a mental health breakdown), and SIG4, which means someone talks about suicide but doesn’t. took no action. SIG4 received the most calls each year, getting over 4,500 in 2021.

“It’s the people’s meeting place. This is what we have learned since we were little. If you need help, you call 911,” said Nicole Fenoglio, President and Founder of Stop Suicide ICT.

Fenoglio says when it comes to mental health, it might not be the best.

“So many times someone is maybe triggered by past trauma or something and if you’ve never been trained to interact with someone, the way you deal with it might end up being the aggravate.

Wichita Police Department Officer Charley Davidson said WPD officers undergo extensive mental health training, both during the academy and in continuing education courses throughout their careers. He said all officers had received crisis intervention training (CIT) or mental health first aid training. The WPD has 121 agents certified in CIT and 32 agents certified in advanced training.

Davidson said the WPD has been instrumental since the beginning of the Integrated Care Team (ICT-1). The team consists of a police officer, a paramedic and a mental health professional. The ICT-1 crew responds to people in mental health crisis. Currently, the team only works Tuesday to Friday from noon to 10 p.m.

“They need to be on all the time, 24/7. We know that doesn’t happen. you know, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday,” Cruse said. “I think expanding our ICT-1 program or finding a co-responder model that works 24/7 is really important.”

Wichita commissioners and mayor are asking state lawmakers for more funding for mental health.

If anyone is in trouble and needs help, help is available. The national suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.

You can also click here to find additional resources.

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