FOND DU LAC COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – A recent mental health crisis involving a homeless veteran has Fond du Lac County officials reminding the public of resources available for those who need help.
On Tuesday, sheriff deputies responded to a call from a homeless veteran who was parked at Eldorado Marsh in rural Fond du Lac County contemplating suicide. Sheriff deputies say the veteran had several guns in his possession.
Fortunately, crisis social workers were able to negotiate with him and nobody was hurt. Sheila Seabourg is a crisis response social worker and was one of the people who were on the scene. She said she’s thankful that there was a happy ending to what could have been a tragic situation.
Seabourg said that Fond du Lac County has embedded a crisis counselor in their department for about six months.
“We assess the situation and try to come up with the safest option possible and leave the person feeling dignified and that they have hope,” said Seabourg.
After this happened, Fond du Lac County officials wanted to remind veterans and the public about resources available for those going through a mental health crisis.
Dialing 9-1-1 is always available in an emergency. There’s also a new suicide and crisis lifeline that people can reach at 9-8-8. For more information about the 9-8-8 hotline, please click here.
Northeast Wisconsin counties also provide crisis intervention services. Here’s the number you can call for each county:
- Fond du Lac County: (920) 929-3535
- Outagamie County: 920-832-4646
- Winnebago County: (920) 233-7707.
- Brown County: (920) 436-8888
- Manitowoc County: 920-683-4230
Fond du Lac County sheriff Ryan Waldschmidt said that the county received about 4000 calls on its crisis hotline last year. He said his department does about 500 welfare checks per year as well.
Waldschmidt said the volume of calls on the crisis line increase in the winter when feelings of loneliness and depression may be especially acute.
“There are a lot of resources, you just need to reach out that’s the first step you need to contact somebody when you’re hurting,” said Waldschmidt.
“I think it’s important for people to know that they’re not alone, that there are thousands and thousands of people who are struggling,” said Seabourg.
The most recent report from the US Department of Veteran Affairs found that 16 veterans per day die by suicide.
Calling 9-1-1, 9-8-8, or a county crisis line are the best options for emergencies.
There are also groups around Northeast Wisconsin that can help veterans with loneliness and more mild cases of depression. Vets and Friends in Appleton is one of those places.
“This is a place where they can open up and share their story and ask questions to people who understand what they went through,” said Jeffrey Huelsbeck who is the community relations director for Vets and Friends.
Huelsbeck said that the organization also helps connect veterans to resources like professional mental health if they need it.