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Signs go up for Mental Health Awareness Month

Published: May. 2, 2021 at 7:09 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Squashing the stigma surrounding suicide one sign at a time.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is taking note.

“Unfortunately earlier this year, starting on January 1, I lost two employees,” said Sheriff Darin Balaam.

Signs of encouragement are now posted all around the property for members of the office and the public who stop by.

“If (anyone has) had a bad day, they’re going to see these signs,” Sheriff Balaam said. “It’ll remind them that people care and that we’re here for them, and as a community walking in and out of our parking lot they’re going to have that exposure as well.”

The loss of the two officers prompted the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office to hire a mental health clinician two weeks ago. Employees have already been calling and making appointments.

The signs didn’t come out of nowhere. They’re part of a bigger movement by Jeff Richards, whose team at Printing Services of Nevada designs the signs. The company doesn’t make a dime off the orders which has been tough during the pandemic, but worthwhile.

“Those things just have to be done,” Richards said of fronting the bill for those who want a sign. “Whether (our business) survives or not, people need help.”

Richards drew inspiration for the initiative from a friend, Lee Murray, who lost his son, Alec, in 2019. Since the signs have gone up Murray’s been sharing his story with interested people he’s never even met before.

“At a bare minimum (the signs) get people to talk and hopefully open up conversations,” Murray said.

While the loss of Alec came out of nowhere for the Murray family, Lee encourages others to have tough conversations.

“It’s an uncomfortable topic but it ranks right up there with talking about drugs and sex. You got to have it.”

Those talks could save lives.

To order a sign, visit Printing Services of Nevada.

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