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Ending Deaths from Despair

our new task force in Dane County

Ending Deaths From Despair Coalition

working to end premature and preventable deaths

the Ending Deaths From Despair Coalition focuses on ways to prevent death by suicide, alcoholism, and drug overdoses.

the pandemic has only emphasized the need to provide better support to those struggling with mental health or addiction issues.

Our task force is made up of 26 people, including mental health providers, first responders and court and community advocates. We aim to take a hard look at the current resources available in the county and fill in the gaps.

Safe Communities is not a counseling or crisis center and does not provide direct services. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

how we help

Our Coalition is working to coordinate and communicate resources and services that may already be available, but most people just aren’t aware of.

Knowing where you can turn during moments of crisis is critical to preventing losses from despair.

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of suicides or attempted overdoses that are going on just in the Madison community. That does not include the entire Dane County. It is mind boggling. People are hurting, people need our help,”
– Charles Tubbs, Dane County Emergency Management Director


our 2022-23 strategy at a glance


ending deaths from despair task force

Task Force Members:

  • Aaron Grey: UW Health Behavioral Health
  • Aurielle Smith: Director of Policy, Planning and Evaluation Public Health Madison and Dane County
  • Carrie Simon: Behavioral Health Manager, Dane County Human Services
  • Carrie Meier: EMS Manager
  • Charles Tubbs Sr: Director, Dane County Emergency Management
  • Charlestine Daniel: Founder, African American Opioid Coalition of Safe Communities
  • Cheryl Wittke: Executive Director, Safe Communities
  • Chief Aaron Chapin: McFarland Police Department, Dane County Police Chief’s Association
  • Chief Liza Tatar: Madison Fire Department
  • Dan Olson: Superintendent, Monona Grove Public Schools
  • Emily S. Anderson: VA Hospital Pain Care Resource Nurse
  • Eric Anderson: EMS Data Analyst
  • Gloria Reyes: Executive Director, Briarpatch Youth Services
  • Hannah Flanagan: Director, Crisis Services, Journey Mental Health
  • Jeff Kostelic: Executive Assistant to Dane County Executive
  • Jill McHone: Executive Director, Fitchburg Senior Center Nonprofit
  • Judge Susan Crawford: Dane County Circuit Court 
  • Julia Stanley: Children’s Mental Health Collaborative
  • Kara McCaffrey: Epic Systems
  • Katrina Hickle-Koclanes: Member & Executive Council, Wisconsin Psychiatric Association
  • Kathleen (Katy) Bartzen Culver: Associate Professor and James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics
  • Kyle Martin: St. Mary’s Emergency Department
  • Lauren Werner: UW Ambulatory Access Manager
  • Linda Lenzke: Executive Director, OUTReach LGBTQ Community Center
  • NAMI of Dane County
  • Lindsay Wallace: Behavioral Health Program Manager
  • Lupita Montoto: La Movida Radio
  • Mary Lauby: Adult Injury Prevention Coordinator, UW Health
  • Nyra Jordan: Social Impact Investment Director
  • Pastor Anthony Wade: Second Baptist Church
  • Rachel Edwards: UW Health Chair
  • Romilia Schlueter: Suicide Prevention Trainer (Spanish), Safe Communities
  • Sara Allee-Jatta: Outreach Worker, Homeless Service Consortium
  • Sarah Dunn: Vice President CG Schmidt
  • Sarah Valencia: Director of Population Health and Addiction Services
  • Steve Starkey: Executive Director, OUTReach LGBTQ Community Center
  • Tom DuVal: Injury Prevention Program Coordinator, Safe Communities
  • Virginia Gittens Escudero: Executive Director, UNIDOS


other resources

two people clutching each others hands in a comforting way

zero suicide initiative

Safe Communities is coordinating a Zero Suicide partnership that includes all area health care systems as well as community organizations with a role to play in suicide prevention.

people sitting around each other, a lady is smiling and reaching her hand out to an out of focus woman

Suicide Prevention Training

Safe Communities offers a free training where participants learn the warning signs for suicide, risk and protective factors, theories that drive suicidal behavior, how to offer hope, and how to seek help to save a life.


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Treatment Key

Safe communities has complied a list of abbreviation definitions for finding the right treatment for you.

MAT: Medication for Addiction Treatment.
OP: Outpatient Treatment – person lives at home or in the community, attends. individual and group therapy, these can include or not include MAT.
IOP: Intensive Outpatient Treatment – person lives at home or in the community, attends individual and extended groups, 9-12 hours a week.
Residential: person lives at the facility for a period of at least 14 days, some last as many as 45 days.
PHP: Partial Hospitalization Program is a structured mental health treatment program that runs for several hours each day, three to five days per week.
DBT: Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that integrates mindfulness techniques.