PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A local mental health professional said if you are worried about the welfare of a person, sometimes the best thing you can do is to “ask the question.”
Holly Bill, the assistant manager for the Hult Center for Healthy Living, said that sometimes just saying ‘hey, how are you doing’ or ‘I’ve noticed that something isn’t right’ is a good starting point for someone who is worried about someone’s mental health.
Bill said news reports about suicide can bring light to a case and possibly cause some to go to a place of “feeling really bad.” In that case, she said, focusing on prevention and “making sure they know there are resources out there rather than what happened to this person” should be the focus.
Her statements came on the day when Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said a prominent Peorian, Lesley Matuszak, took her own life late last month.
Those who are experiencing a mental health crisis can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call or text the number 9-8-8, which is a crisis hotline. The Peoria City/County Health Department has more information on its website.
“With talking with her family, they didn’t want this information publicly out there, quite frankly, but they understand that when we talk about something like this, we might be able to prevent it as well by talking about prevention strategies and warning signs and it gives us an opportunity to use her legacy to do that,” Harwood said.
Some community resources could be a friend’s ear or as serious as a call to 911 for a mental health professional.
“If you’re really worried about someone, and it’s to that point that you think you can’t intervene on your own, then you really need mental health professionals at that point, and that’s a 911 call,” she said.
Whether that worry comes from personal interaction or through social media, it doesn’t matter. Having someone do a “wellness” check is appropriate, she said.
“I think it gives us the opportunity to open the door to conversation. And opening the door to conversation is really important especially when it comes to suicide prevention. Just letting somebody know that we’re humans we’re going to face difficulties I’m here for you I may not be able to solve all your issues, but I will walk alongside you,” Bill said.
Mental health crises can occur due to depression, anxiety, or even a bad reaction to medication. She said it’s important to get a medical professional involved who can better treat someone for all those reasons.
Calling 911, Bill said, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the police who respond. Within Peoria, ERS, which stands for Emergency Response Services, is a group of trained mental health professionals who could be sent out if needed.
And she said those who have a loved one or a friend take their own life also are at risk.
“Those who have lost someone to suicide are at a higher risk of suicide themselves. and so we want to make sure that we are talking to those who have lost somebody, and you never quite know who they have lost in their past. There is a suicide support group that meets at Hult Center on the first Wednesday of every month,” she said.