NAPERVILLE – Signs with information about the Suicide Prevention Hotline will soon be posted in select areas of Naperville parks/trails.
A joint task force of Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, Naperville Park District, City of Naperville, and the Preserved Forest Districts of DuPage and Will Counties launched “Operation Disrupt” as a way to be proactive in suicide prevention.
The new program extracted data from police and fire department records to identify locations where suicide attempts have occurred in the past and areas where suicide attempts may occur in the future.
The Naperville Park District will initially install six signs over the next few days, Park District Police Officer and Operations Coordinator Thomas Wronski said. Although the signs are located in secluded areas of these parks, they are intended to be visible to passers-by.
“It’s important for people to know that, mainly because we want people who are considering (suicide) that we want to help them and we have officers who want to help,” he said.
These signs will carry Operation Disrupt, telephone and online contact information for the National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention, and contact information for the Crisis Text Line. In the case of the Park District, the signs will also state that “this area patrolled by Naperville Park District Police.”
“We see this as a component (of our work) that is practical and that we can scale quickly with,” Wronski said.
Representatives from each of these organizations welcomed the launch of the initiative in a press release.
“Suicides and deaths from despair are currently reaching epidemic levels in the United States,” Dr. Jerome Kaul, senior clinical therapist at Linden Oaks, said in the statement. Agencies partnered with Kaul for Operation Disrupt.
“It is vitally important that the mental health profession join forces with law enforcement, park districts and preserved forest districts on practical steps that can be taken to disrupt suicide attempts and save lives,” he added.
“After hearing about the increase in suicides among high school students, we wanted to help raise awareness of this serious issue and do our part to open the lines of communication related to prevention,” the police chief said. of the Forest Preserve District of Will County. /Public Safety Administrator Tracy Chapman in the release.
Wronski said that in addition to the signs, park district officers will undergo “in-the-moment” training to identify and help people they might see on patrol who are suicidal or in need of help.
This form of training is meant to help someone immediately, Wronski said. It could be as simple as asking someone questions.
“It’s not training like in a school or a larger environment. It’s training for the police on what to do, how to spot someone right now in a park or a trail,” did he declare.
The Park District employs three full-time officers and fifteen part-time officers, Wronski said. Some already have crisis intervention training, he said. The Operation Disrupt partnership provides park district officers with additional tools and resources from the Naperville Police and other partners.
In the announcement, Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres said “this is a tremendous opportunity to use data and work collaboratively to address a very serious issue affecting communities across the country, including ours.”
“Our officers continue to respond to so many calls resulting from mental health-related crises involving young people, and this program’s focus on data and proactive policing is an innovative way to potentially have a real impact on our community,” Arres said.