Crisis Services CEO: “Make mental health an everyday conversation”

Mental Health Awareness

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — We don’t talk often about suicide in the news. There’s a thoughtful reason behind that, and it’s because the transparent truth is that we know being reminded of it can be triggering to people struggling with mental health.

So we talked to the CEO of Crisis Services to help all of us navigate a tough day in our community.

The Saniyya Dennis case is impossible to ignore. News 4 had already been reporting on her disappearance for a week.

So to do our part in recognizing the sensitivity of this story, we asked Crisis Services to weigh in.

Crisis Services CEO Jessica Pirro told us, “It does cause concern for individuals who are vulnerable, who are seeing this and watching it unfold. How we talk about it, how we represent what happened to this individual can be triggering, and so we have to be very thoughtful and compassionate about that when we’re talking about this particular case.”

Pirro says when someone’s thoughts progress to action, that’s when we need to intervene. But before it comes to that, she says we can change the tone around mental health by making it an everyday conversation.

“When somebody is in a suicidal crisis, their thought process gets restricted. they can’t be creative, they can’t figure out what the best option is. They just feel the pain that they’re in. So we want to make sure that we’re reaching in.”

If you could use a supportive voice to talk to or if you need resources to help someone in need, call Crisis Services.

“Reaching out is really a strength, and we want people to see getting help as power, and not weakness. And really understanding that we’re all dealing with various things in our lives every day and to be thoughtful and compassionate to our friends, neighbor, coworkers because we don’t know what’s going on sometimes in their lives.”

Pirro said it helps to understand that people live with suicidal thoughts in our community every day, and just asking how a person offers them an outlet.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, help is available. Erie County’s Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours a day: 716-834-3131. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255. For more information, visit

Crisis Services:
Buffalo & Erie County
24 Hour Addiction Hotline
Kids Helpline
Chautauqua County Hotline
24-Hour Erie County Domestic Violence Hotline
For Shelter: 716-884-6000
24-Hour NYS Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline
Hearing Impaired?
Use 711 (National Relay Service)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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