KALAMAZOO, MI – Several hours after the police removed a black sedan and the body of a mother and her twin daughters from the Kalamazoo River, the Kalamazoo County Commissioners discussed removing mental health problems and providing more resources to those affected.
Police believe that a 44-year-old mother deliberately drove himself and his two 9-year-old twin daughters into the river late Monday evening, June 17. The bodies of Ineza McClinton and her daughters Faith and Angel McClinton were restored after the police had been warned
Police are still investigating the deaths, but the woman's sister told MLive that McClinton had previously sought help for depression at a facility in Grand Rapids where she lived.
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas called it a tragedy for the whole community.
Thomas stopped briefly to call the incident a suicide and said only that investigators believe that McClinton deliberately drove the road
While the county commissioners talked about public forums and a need for more resources on Tuesday, the rest of the community asked which psychologist was referred to as a "emotional shock" felt by those who learned from the News.
In February, a similar foam was sent through northern Kent County when a mother shot and killed herself and her three daughters.
Investigators said Aubrianne Moore used a rifle to shoot and kill his daughters Kyrie Rodery, 8, Cassidy Rodery, 6, and Alaina Rau, 2, on properties just a short distance down 1
Experts say cases where someone kills both themselves and others are rare, especially among mothers. But they recognize the national suicide rates that generally increase.
In response, mental health professionals are pushing for more direct conversation about suicide.
In 2016, suicide became the fourth leading cause of age 35-54, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2018 study by the CDC showed a 33 percent increase in the suicide rate in Michigan when comparing the 1999-2001 period with 2014-16. The nationwide increase was 25 percent.
The reasons for this uptick are still most open to speculation, says Jeff Patton, CEO of Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
"It seems that people are under more stress," Patton said. "We can see what we can feel it, but I don't think we could put it in the statistics necessarily."
What professionals can agree on are the appropriate methods of prevention and the need to educate the public on how to identify a person considering suicide.
Mental health professionals are cautious about not clumping those who have mental disorders and mental illnesses together, and distinguishing between being depressed and suicide.
Patton said the key triggers of suicide can be emotional, physical or sexual abuse or other forms of trauma. Retention after major life changes such as losing a job, housing, beloved or ending a relationship can also be a sign of a bigger problem.
Often, the most ignored signs of suicide are jokes about it, he said. That is why professionals advise their loved ones in advance and ask themselves if anyone is considering killing themselves.
Susan Davis, behavioral healing presenter at Family and Children Services, emphasized using the words "suicide" and "killing yourself" so that the message is clear and taken seriously.
"People really dance around these words and just say:" Are you thinking of doing something crazy or stupid? "But that's not the question," Davis said.
As a board member of the county suicide prevention action network, Davis said that part of the suicide education teaches how and when to have them conversations.
"There is the myth out there that if you mention the word suicide, you just planted the seed," she said. "I guarantee you if they think of suicide, they have already thought about it. You don't give them the idea."
Even more importantly, Davis stressed the need for open dialogue on mental health problems so that the public can feel comfortable in asking these questions without putting fear or stigma into the conversation.
"I think many times for people what is scary and what makes them not want to ask the question is that they don't know what to do when they get it," she said. "
For those struggling with suicidal thoughts, Kalamazoo's Gryphon Place has a 24-hour confidential hotline that has call counselors to listen to callers and connect them with local resources.
Call 2-1-1 for information and referral services and connect to community resources and call 269- 381-HELP (381-4357) for direct access to the local 24-hour counseling hotline.
For those who need immediate medical attention, Family and Children Services offers a mobile youth crisis unit. reached at 269-373-6000 or 1-888-373-6200.
For those seeking advice on how to help, there is free access to mental health training courses through the Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. s seen targeting different risky populations like teenagers and veterans. The summer training program is available at kazoocmh.org.
During the discussion between county commissioners on Tuesday night, Commissioner Michael Seals invited the public to participate and offer ideas on how to disseminate and improve mental health resources throughout the county.  A public hearing on how to better deliver public health services will be held on Monday, June 24, at. 18:00 to 8:30 pm at Kalamazoo Valley Community College located at 202 N. Rose Street in Anna Whitten Hall Room No. 128.