What Crisis Services Means to Our Community: Investing in Us Means Saving Thousands of Lives

by Jessica Pirro

Over 50 years ago, Crisis Services in Erie County was forged out of a need for improvements in the system of mental health and emotional support at a time when suicide rates were escalating. The goal to prevent suicides and other crisis incidents continues today including support to approximately 100,000 individuals a year. At any given time someone is in touch with a crisis first responder. Crisis experts need to be available instantly no matter the hour, day or night.

To illustrate the critical role Crisis Services plays in Erie County, imagine what the absence of the organization would mean to those impacted by crisis and trauma.

It would mean the 1,106 domestic and sexual violence victims treated at local hospitals last year would be alone, not just in the first moments after an assault, but through the entire recovery process. They wouldn’t have someone helping them know their rights and what to expect next; someone to help them navigate through the legal system; or receive free therapy services to direct them on the path to healing.

It would mean of the 1,968 people that contacted the Emergency Mental Health Response Services, the 1,345 people stabilized safely in the community might have ended up unnecessarily in a local psychiatric hospital, or even jail. They just needed someone with the right resources and training to assist them in their time of crisis.

It would mean the 12,552 calls received after hours on behalf of other area mental health agencies would have been deferred to emergency services, such as 911, or they may have even been hospitalized, versus receiving supportive counseling from one of a crisis counselor.

It would mean the 85,379 people who called the hotline in 2018 wouldn’t have had someone to talk to in their moment of need. They would be alone. Who knows what the tragic effect of that loneliness felt by over 85,000 people would actually amount to for our community?

The relationship between Crisis Services and the WNY community is not only crucial to the health and safety of the residents of Buffalo and Erie County, it is also crucial in the system of change. When services are utilized, lives are saved, stigmas are broken, and a community of safety and support is provided. While there is still much ground to cover in achieving culture change, WNY has come so far, and first responders have been leading that charge. Crisis Services is here to continue the march in the direction of hope, so no one is alone in a time of crisis. Crisis can happen to anyone. It is the organization’s vision that anyone in our community in need finds safety, help, and hope.

Invest in the Crisis Services mission and ensure every call is answered 24-hours a day. To put their services into perspective, a $50 donation allows our crisis first responders to provide lifesaving aid to one caller in need. Help save lives. Visit www.crisisservices.org today.

Jessica Pirro is the Executive Director of Crisis Services in Erie County.