COVINGTON, La. - A new report shows a year of suicide crisis efforts in St. Tammany Parish has helped combat the problem.
St. Tammany has one of the state's highest rates of suicide and attempted suicide, which led St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's deputies to suicide-related calls at least once every day.
"This consumes our manpower," St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tim Lentz said. "My deputy sheriff's spend more time dealing with mental health issues than they do traffic enforcement."
For the past year, deputies have had a crisis response team with them on those calls.
"It's very, very difficult to go out and do this day in and day out," Parish Health and Human Services Director, and team member, John Tobin said.
But a new report on the team's effectiveness over the past year shows their intervention in attempts, and follow-up counseling at the Community Health Center, has not only slowed the amount of suicides in the parish, but prevented repeat attempts in every case they were involved in.
"We're holding our own, however, the state of mental health in St. Tammany is not as good as it's been in the past," said Tobin.
The same report shows people in their late 30s to early 40s, and kids 18 and under, are still the focus of most calls. Also, more people are being committed for their mental health issues. The effort is one that can't continue alone. It's funded by the parish public health millage, which is up for renewal by voters in November.
"We're saving lives, at the end of the day, we're saving lives," said Lentz.. "I implore everyone to reach into your heart, deep down and find a way to support this program."
People in need of crisis or suicide prevention counseling can call 211 for help.