Help is available for people experiencing a mental crisis to help avert situations such as the murder-suicide in Huron County Wednesday evening.
Nancy Cochran, executive director of Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties, lives near Willard. She tried to take her granddaughter out to eat at a fast-food restaurant Wednesday evening, but they could not get to one because a section of US 224 was blocked off due to the hostage situation.
"Your heart just bleeds for both families, really," Cochran said.
She said it is sad because there is a Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services office in Willard. If the gunman had been experiencing any kind of issues, he could have called it, she said.
Because Mental Health and Recovery Services Board is a governmental agency, officials see people who perhaps don't have insurance or a job, Cochran said.
"We can help them pay for their services. I know that the office over there (in Willard) provides both mental health and substance abuse counseling," she said.
The local Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, which provides mental health, alcohol, drug and gambling services, is just one place to go for help. Anyone experiencing a crisis also could call Firelands, Mercy Tiffin Hospital, law enforcement, veterans services offices or National Alliance on Mental Health, which serves Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot counties.
Firelands offers emergency and long-term counseling services and critical incident debriefing. A person seeking emergency counseling can call Firelands at (419) 448-9440.
"They will set you up to come in for an appointment," Cochran said.
During the intake process, officials figure out whether the individual would need subsidized funding and will want to know about the person's job and income, she said.
If "you don't have a job, don't let that keep you from going in," she said.
After the intake process is complete, the person would meet with an official for an assessment to find out what sent the person to the agency and what issues he or she feels he or she has.
The information is used to determine which therapist the person would see, Cochran said.
Cochran said to prevent an incident similar to Wednesday's hostage situation, the best thing a person can do is to let people know there is care out there. A problem the board sees is a stigma associated with going to counseling. She said thinks it is because people don't want to hear their car was seen at Firelands and don't want to be asked whether they're crazy.
The mental health board offers various conferences, and one today is to focus on suicide prevention.
The hope is attendees will know that if they see people in trouble, they can asked them if they are thinking about suicide and then direct them where to seek help.
Sometimes, the best thing people can do is offer to take them, Cochran said.
According to NAMI's website, suicide claims about 30,000 lives in the United State each year.
"Suicide is one of the greatest tragedies imaginable for a victim and their loved ones," it states.