MORRIS COUNTY — As of September 15, 32 individuals have died by suspected suicide, compared to 21 individuals by that date in 2019 in Morris County. With more than 100 days left in this calendar year, overall suicides this year have exceeded by five the 27 deaths attributed to suicide in 2019.
Emphasizing Morris County’s stigma-free philosophy, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon stressed that services are available and ready to minister to individuals who are in despair or feeling disengaged from family, friends, and healthy relationships.
The COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, unexpected deaths, and inability to freely grieve at funerals coupled with job losses, civil unrest, and uncertainty about the future have created a maelstrom that can overwhelm the psyche.
“Major disruptions and stress in people’s lives, as many have felt this year, can seriously damage mental and emotional well-being. Social distancing can lead to a disconnection from others and many people have not been able to mourn deaths with traditional wakes and funerals. There are resources to turn to and people who can help others cope, no matter who they are,” Sheriff Gannon said.
Tracy Klingener, Director of Suicide Prevention Services for the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, said COVID-19 has cut many people off from direct contact with family and friends. Without face-to-face encounters, warning signs that others are depressed or feeling hopeless can go undetected, she said.
“Without face to face interaction, people are not having the conversations they may have previously had with others,” she said.
“At a time like this, people may be in a state of intense tunnel vision about their problems and their lives. It’s important to remind people that ‘You’re not alone. We’re in this together,” Director Klingener said.
Mental health and overcoming addiction is a cornerstone of Sheriff Gannon’s administration, which launched the Hope One mobile addiction and mental health outreach program on April 3, 2017.
Hope One is partnered with the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, which links individuals with treatment services, education, and wellness programs. One or more trained mental health advocates are present on every HOPE ONE trip into the community and since April 2017, have connected at least 151 people to mental health services.
- Morris County Sheriff’s Office Hope One program: (973) 590-0300;
- Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris: (973) 334-3496;
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255;
- Ricky’s Compass (Click here)
- Crisis Text Line: Text the word TALK to 741-741;
- NJ Hopeline: (855) 654-6735;
- Local meetings of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (Click here)
- Cop2Cop, a confidential, 24-hour helpline for police officers and their families: 1-866-COP2COP.