Dane Co. announces new initiative focused on preventing suicide, overdose deaths

MADISON, Wis. — Nearly two dozen Dane County partners are teaming up to help prevent suicide and other premature, preventable deaths as people continue to struggle with mental health during the pandemic.

A task force made up up clinical mental health providers, police officers, first responders, area businesses and judges are coming together to create the “Ending Deaths from Despair Coalition.”

They say their mission is to prevent deaths from suicides, drug overdoses and chronic alcoholism.

“We’re not immune to this in Dane County, despite everything our community has to offer,” Dane County executive Joe Parisi said during a virtual press conference Wednesday. “The opioid overdose epidemic and suicide have been on the rise here, along with the rest of the national, and then came the COVID pandemic and the challenges brought about by it.”

The coalition plans to hold meetings and establish work groups in the future.

The county has recently launched the Dane County Behavioral Resource Center, and is in the planning stages for a triage center to immediately help people in crisis.