Help Yourself, Help a Friend, Prevent a Suicide

The headlines are startling and unnerving: “Four Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide”; “Father Kills Two Sons and Himself”; “Elderly Couple Case Ruled Murder-Suicide”.

These and other recent headlines have called attention in our community to some high profile murder-suicides including several with child victims. According to the American Society of Suicide Prevention, ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.

San Diego County and several community partners are joining together to highlight the services available to those suffering from depression.  The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), in partnership with Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP), Alvarado Parkway Institute, Mental Health America, Optum Health and Sharp, is hosting a series of no-cost depression screenings at several San Diego County locations during San Diego Depression Screening Week October 3-8.

“Sometimes, people believe that the symptoms of depression are a normal part of life so they don’t seek help,” said Alfredo Aguirre, Director of HHSA’s Mental Health Services. “People may not even be aware of it, but their family members may see a change in them or how they carry out their day-to-day life.

“We want to encourage people to get help early, and Depression Screening Week is a valuable outreach tool that provides convenient assessment and referrals to services for County residents.”

Trained mental health volunteers will administer depression screening tools to adults 18 years and older at 20 sites around the County. At those sites, an experienced mental health clinician will be available to meet with individuals needing immediate intervention or referrals for ongoing help. There are an additional five sites that will have information available, but not offer screenings.

“We have to get beyond the stigma associated with mental illness and allow people to feel comfortable seeking help,” said Aguirre. “Every day the County has close to 200 contracted or County-operated, publicly funded mental health programs for people seeking services.”

For a complete listing of screening sites or for a depression screening over the phone (available during Depression Screening Week), please call the County’s 24-hour Access and Crisis Line at (800) 479-3339. You can also call 2-1-1 or look under County News Center Events. For additional resources and information about depression, visit