EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- A lack of mental health care is leading to alarming statistics regarding suicide and drug deaths.
That's according to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Suicide rates are something of concern in Eau Claire County,” said Lieske Giese, Director at the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. Suicide is not just a growing issue nationally, but locally as well.
"Our rates are overall higher than those across Wisconsin and higher than national rates," said Giese.
The total number of reported suicides in Eau Claire County in 2018 sits at 13. "There are more hospitalizations for mental health related issues and self-harm.” She said this signals that things are not quite right.
Despite suicide and depression rates growing, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that almost a third of people who reported severe psychological distress are not getting mental health care. "We do certainly know that like across the U.S. many suicides don’t necessarily have a situation where people were already receiving intensive mental health services and seen as being at risk," said Giese.
Many agencies are working hard to meet the need for more services. The Eau Claire County Department of Human Services has recently ramped up efforts to provide more mental and behavioral health resources, with a focus of lowering wait times for patients among other services. Officials encourage those with questions or needs to reach out as mental health remains the number one priority in the county.
Department of Human Services Director, Diane Cable says she hopes as her department expands resources, the number of people in the county being impacted by mental health issues will go down.