WBFO Mental Health Initiative

WBFO's Mental Health Initiative is funded by the Patrick P. Lee Foundation.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

After several years of talk about the death of Erie County Holding Center inmate India Cummings, local officials are hoping for definitive answers from a new investigation begun by New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood.

Media pool photo from 2010 tour of Erie County Holding Center

The 2016 death of 27-year-old India Cummings has raised many questions about the care of inmates at the Erie County Holding Center.  As part of our Mental Health Initiative, WBFO’s senior reporter Eileen Buckley finds out how inmates are screened for mental health while held at the jail.

WBFO News photo

With the new mandated state law for mental health education in schools across New York State, we learned more about how two school districts implemented a mental health curriculum.  As part of WBFO’s Mental Health Initiative, senior reporter Eileen Buckley leads a conversation with New York State Regent Catherine Fisher Collins, who represents Western New York; Michael Cornell, Superintendent of the Hamburg Central School District; and Mark Laurrie, Superintendent of the Niagara Falls City School District.

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As the lawsuit for the death of India Cummings enters the discovery phase, more details are expected to become public about what a state Commission of Correction report calls a "homicide due to medical neglect."

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Teaching children about their mental health is underway in classrooms across New York State.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says a new mental health curriculum has been rolled out for the new school year. 

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

More area police officers will be trained on how to handle individuals suffering from a mental health or drug abuse crisis. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins announced $1.65-million federal grant Monday, appearing at the City of Tonawanda Police Department. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says it's a five year grant to expand Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law enforcement.   

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

It is estimated that 300-million people suffer from depression across the world.  Experts say it's important to take action to deal with it.  As part of our Mental Health Initiative, WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says a local attorney found a way to help others as a way of enhancing his own mood. 

Nick Lippa / WBFO

Stress levels for farmers in America have skyrocketed in recent years. With dairy prices low, many farmers are looking not just for financial support, but emotional support as well. Programs like New York State FarmNet have become integral for agricultural professionals in rural communities who may be suffering from depression.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The heartache of suicide for surviving family members was highlighted as Erie County leaders kicked of Suicide Prevention Week Tuesday. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the prevention message is of hope.


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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

More and more young children are experiencing 'complex trauma'.  That has created a need for added mental health services.  As part of our on-going Mental Health Initiative, WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley toured Gatway Longview's new Northtown Behavioral Health Clinic in Williamsville to reach more youth.

WBFO News file photo

The state recently announced plans to treat some children at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. And that’s raising questions for the coalition that worked to keep the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center open in West Seneca. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the coalition’s attorney wants answers, refusing to drop a lawsuit. 

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A new pilot program is aimed at preventing opioid and heroin addiction.  State Senator Chris Jacobs announced he has secured $50,000 in state funding to support a High School Ambassador Program in Buffalo Public high schools. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the program will promote behaviors to avoid drug abuse. 


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The Buffalo Psychiatric Center will be home to a new mental health service for youth that the state says is currently not available anywhere in New York.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

As there is a growing response to better handle mental health, we spoke with a prominent philosopher from New York University, who explains some of what causes 'mental breakdowns'.  Professor Jerome Wakefield is in Buffalo where he attend UB's philosophy event called the Romanell Conference.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Wakefield offers his views on the mental health crisis and addiction.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A woman who escaped domestic violence and conquered alcoholism is sharing her story to offer hope for others. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley spoke with Jillian James who says a women's shelter and food assistance saved her life.

A state review board has issued a report on the death of India Cummings, who died at ECMC following her incarceration at the Erie County Holding Center. Ann Venuto, president of the Buffalo & Erie Co. chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, read the report. She says the Cummings case is another example of how most jails are not equipped to care for the mentally ill.


Avery Schneider / WBFO News

The death of 27-year-old India Cummings after more than two weeks at the Erie County Holding Center in 2016 was in the spotlight at County Hall on Wednesday, with criticism of the care and treatment of inmates there taking center stage.


Can education and voluntary outreach protect gun owners from the high suicide risk?

We reported Monday that two-thirds of gun deaths in the U.S. are the result of suicide. More than 21,000 Americans take their lives using a firearm every year. That's much higher than the number of homicides or deaths by mass shootings.

A simple phone call can reduce suicide risk

Jul 20, 2018

The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show suicide rates continuing to climb nationwide. In New York, the CDC found that the rate has risen almost 30 percent since 1999.

People who have gone to the emergency room once for an attempted suicide are at high risk for attempting it again after their release.

Now, a study has shown a straightforward way of reducing that risk: calling those patients.

Photo by Jon Crispin

After state officials closed the Willard Psychiatric Center near Ithaca, they made an unusual discovery. In the attic were 400 suitcases left behind from patients who lived there. For more than 20 years those suitcases have been in the hands of the state, but now they may finally be reunited with families of the patients.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

For two-and-a-half years, the death of India Cummings has  raised questions. Cummings died after spending 17 days at the Erie County Holding Center. Thursday brought another protest outside the Holding Center, in the wake of a state report that said homicide should be listed as the woman's cause of death.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Hamburg Central School District is working to make sure students with mental health issues receive proper care. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says when the new school year begins in September, every staff member in the Hamburg school District will have received mental health first aid training.

A new report from the state Department of Health says the potential benefits of legalizing marijuana for use by adults outweighs the potential risks. But there’s concern over public education if legalization goes forward.


Photo from Clint Malarchuk's website

A former Buffalo Sabre is sharing his battle with mental illness. Goalie Clint Malarchuk played in the NHL from 1981 through 1992. He also coached in the NHL and minor leagues. As part of WBFO's Mental Health Initiative, Eileen Buckley spoke with Malarchuk, 57, who survived two life-threatening injuries; one from hockey, the other, an attempted suicide. 

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The U.S. Secret Service issued a report Thursday releasing guidelines to help schools prevent deadly shootings. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the Secret Service is urging schools to set up 'threat assessment teams'.

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

A new state law took effect July 1st that now requires mental health education in Kindergarten through 12th grade all across New York.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says this is the first law of its kind in the nation and now schools must be ready by September.

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A new state law is taking effect in New York that requires schools to teach mental health to students in elementary, middle and high school.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

June 25th, 2018 would have marked the 62nd birthday of celebrity chef and television star Anthony Bourdain.  Bourdain recently took his own life while on location in France for his CNN program Parts Unknown.  Monday evening in Buffalo members of the food and beverage industry have created a special event in Bourdain’s honor. 

Fifteen years ago, I broke up with my very nice boyfriend and plunged headlong into a dark depression. I loved Marc but had known from the beginning that he wasn't the man for me.

The number of people dying by suicide in the United States has risen by about 30 percent in the past two decades. And while the majority of suicide-related deaths today are among boys and men, a study published Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics finds that the number of girls and women taking their own lives is rising.

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