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Agency provides help when things don't seem right

It has been a few days since the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz. Like many, I have been watching the news and following the story's evolution online. Many questions have emerged from this incident in the nation's Desert State. Most of these questions have no easy answers or immediate solutions.

We are not an uncomplicated society and, due to its openness and democratic principles, risks are inherent. These risks are far too often ignored and rarely voiced in our public discourse.

The organization that I head, Crisis Services, is confronted with these risks on a daily basis. We work with most of the social service agencies and police forces in the Western New York area to minimize these risks, but the fact remains that they are intrinsically woven into our community's fabric.

We are all now asking the prerequisite questions: Could the Tucson tragedy have been avoided? Could the appropriate intervention in this young man's life have altered the inevitability of his violent actions? Could what happened in Tucson take place in Buffalo?

While rhetorical questions such as these cannot be answered simplistically, at Crisis Services we are confronted with these questions on a daily basis. It is vitally important for readers to be aware that there is an organization you can contact when questions of a behavioral or mental health nature arise.

We often hear from those close to a tragedy that they could see unsettling patterns developing that were of concern, but they had no idea what, if anything, could be done. How many times have you been in a position where you had an intuitive feeling that something was wrong, but you had nowhere to turn, no one to confide in?

We encourage people to call us whenever one of these situations develops involving a friend, a relative, a classmate or a teammate. It is critically important that your concern begins receiving the attention it deserves.

All of the information that comes into this agency is completely confidential We are open 24 hours a day with trained staff and volunteers to take your call.

The Crisis Services name and its phone number are already on countless voice mail systems associated with helping organizations and mental health professionals for after-hours assistance for their clients. We have an Outreach Department ready to send out teams of dedicated mental health professionals for assessment and evaluation and, when necessary, arranging for involuntary transport to a psychiatric emergency room.

Human behavior is not an easy thing to tackle alone; let us help you. Our mission statement sums it all up: Crisis Services is dedicated to promoting the health, safety and well-being of the community through prevention, education, immediate intervention and access to community-wide resources 24 hours a day. Call us at 834-3131.

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Douglas B. Fabian is executive director of Crisis Services.

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