Robert Price stands with his two sons, Andrew and Kevin, and his wife Kathleen at the 58er Ride, Team Cont;nue’s annual fundraising event.

Robert Price stands with his two sons, Andrew and Kevin, and his wife Kathleen at the 58er Ride, Team Cont;nue’s annual fundraising event.

Photo provided by Robert Price

Mental health calls rise in response to new phone number

By: Alyssa Ochss | Metro | Published August 20, 2023


METRO DETROIT — Since it went live last year in July, the 988 phone number has led to an increased number of mental health calls.

Anne Perry, the Michigan director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the 988 lifeline has seen an increase in calls and there have been longer wait times to gain access to mental health professionals in general. However, these are good things because it means people are reaching out more in times of crisis.

“Those increased calls to the lifeline that we’ve seen, that’s because it’s more accessible and more socially acceptable to reach out,” Perry said. “So calls to the lifeline don’t necessarily translate into suicide.”

Locally, according to the St. Clair Shores Police Department, there have been four suicides, eight attempted suicides and 123 mental health calls in their area in 2023.

Lt. James Brueckman, of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, said in a text that the department refers all mental health calls to Macomb County Community Mental Health for follow up. Since Aug. 2022, the agency answered 2,561 suicide and crisis lifeline calls. Of those calls, 487 were suicidal callers. Calls made to the number can be for any reason related to mental health.

According to a document provided by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, from July 2022 to June 2023, there were more than 69,000 calls made to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in the entire state of Michigan.

Perry said it’s a little too early to have preliminary overall suicide numbers for 2023.

“We have seen a decrease in certain populations, mainly minority population(s) and then a slight increase overall,” Perry said. “But it’s kind of hard to tell what we’re going to see in a world post COVID.”

Agnes Ward, chief clinical officer for Macomb County Community Mental Health, recognizes a mental health crisis can be a scary time for the family but wants them to remember to treat those going through it with compassion.

“I think part of it is really knowing that feeling that way is not a choice somebody actively makes,” Ward said. “They got here to this place, they may have been in deep despair for quite some time.”

When looking for signs of a potentially suicidal individual, Perry said they break it down into talk, behavior and mood. Talk is saying suicidal thoughts or feelings of desperation out loud. Behavior could mean individuals withdrawing from things they loved or losing interest in things they would normally like to do. Mood can be extreme irritability, anger or rage, Perry said.

“Our rule of thumb is, if you are thinking that something is wrong and you need to have a conversation with someone about yourself or someone else, and that’s a sure sign that you need to have that conversation,” Perry said.

She went on to say people need to normalize the conversation around suicide and mental health in general.

“You wouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help when it comes to your physical body. If a bone was broken or if you had heart disease or something of that nature,” Perry said. “Anything having to do with your brain should be no different.”

The signs of a potentially suicidal individual are not the same for everyone. Bad days with anxiety or minor depression don’t necessarily mean that an individual is going to commit suicide.

“It’s when those (bad) days outweigh the good days is when you really need to take a closer look at things,” Perry said.

Robert Price, president and trustee of Team Cont;nue, said he lost his son to suicide. His son had made previous attempts to take his own life and battled depression.

Price decided to start Team Cont;nue in the Rochester and Shelby Township area after another young man in their community committed suicide.

The word “Cont;nue” came from a tattoo Price’s son had on his arm. After his son’s previous suicide attempts, he left notes. But during his last attempt, he didn’t leave one.

“We kind of felt, well, that (Cont;nue) was a message to us because he didn’t leave a note when he died on his last attempt,” Price said.

They printed Team Cont;nue on shirts and hosted a walk raising money when they first started out. After participating in other suicide prevention walks and learning of other organizations, Price said there was one opening, from what he could tell, that no one had thought of.

“Go in and provide counseling for young adults and adolescents that couldn’t afford it,” Price said.

This year, they’ve raised close to $60,000.

Price said he wants others who have experienced losing a loved one to suicide to know they are not alone.

“No matter how short a person’s life is, it has a purpose,” Price said. “I’d want them to know that they’re going to find a purpose in their loved one’s life, maybe not exactly like the way we did, but it will come to them.”

Macomb County Community Mental Health’s crisis lines are (586) 307-9100 and (855) 927-4747. They will serve individuals regardless of insurance or county of residence.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts “Out of the Darkness” walks to raise awareness. To find a walk near you, visit their website at

To find out more about Team Cont;nue visit their website at