City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention Teams Up with The Hop MKE and Community Partners to Spread Suicide Prevention Messaging

MILWAUKEE – From 2011 to 2019, 52% of all nationwide rail transit fatalities were due to suicide, and the number of deaths by suicide on public transit have been trending upward. In response to this staggering statistic, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a Safety Advisory to encourage all transit agencies to implement, update, or expand suicide prevention signage and incorporate mental health awareness messaging on rail transit cars and stations.

The City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention has teamed up with The Hop MKE, Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Services (BHS), and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Wisconsin Chapter to place signage (image attached) on each Hop MKE streetcar and station with resources for anyone who is struggling with thoughts of depression, self-harm, or suicide. Research suggest that suicide prevention and mental health support messaging can be effective at the moment of crisis to deter self-harm actions.

“Partnerships are essential to create and disseminate positive messaging within all communities,” said Vaynesia Kendrick, suicide prevention manager with the Office of Violence Prevention. “The opportunity to work with The Hop MKE, AFSP, and Milwaukee County BHS allow for mental health and suicide prevention messaging to be distributed using various systems, including methods of transportation. When help is needed, I encourage the use of the 988 Lifeline to call, chat, or text. Your life is important.”

In addition to the tragic loss of human life, suicide events can be physically, mentally, and emotionally traumatizing for witnesses, particularly vehicle operators. Suicide events can also trigger service disruptions in the immediate aftermath, as agencies conduct investigations and address any physical infrastructure damage.

“We appreciate the opportunity, during Mental Health Awareness Month, to share the resources Milwaukee County residents have to access help, hope, and support,” said Andrea Nauer-Waldschmidt, psychiatric crisis services coordinator for Milwaukee County Department of Health & Human Services, Behavioral Health Services. “Coming together in suicide prevention across public and private partners highlights our common goal to increase knowledge about available support so people know they don’t have to go about it alone. Make the call.”

The signs, which will be placed on every streetcar and at every station, share resources for individuals in crisis to receive help. The Milwaukee County Crisis Line, 414-257-7222, and the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 988, are both prominently displayed on the posters.

“We have to find ways to bring mental health resources to every community,” said Gena Orlando, Wisconsin Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Having these posters on The Hop MKE is a fantastic way to provide lifesaving crisis information to many who may otherwise not know where to find it.”

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