Nicholas Ristoff works the crisis hotline at Contact Community Center in East Syracuse Monday, March 21, 2022. (Scott Trimble | [email protected])


To the Editor:


Onondaga County, like the rest of the nation, is experiencing a youth mental health crisis. As a mental health provider in the community for over 50 years, Contact Community Services responds every day to youth who are struggling.

We applaud Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, D-128th Assembly District, for her proposed legislation requiring all public-school educators and staff to undergo mental health and suicide prevention training (“Amid youth mental health crisis, train school staff to prevent suicide,” Aug. 30, 2023).

Contact has long focused on creating a suicide-safer community ensuring youth and adults are informed about suicide and mental health. We work with Onondaga County school districts to reduce stigma, improve equity in mental health, enable early identification, prevention and/or intervention, especially among disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. In the last school year, Contact trained 61,000 students, staff members, parents/caregivers and community members. Still, as tirelessly as we work, we know more needs to be done.

Thank you, Assemblymember Hunter! When young people are educated about mental health, the likelihood increases they will be able to effectively recognize signs and symptoms in themselves and others and feel more comfortable seeking help, thus improving academic performance and, most importantly, saving lives.

Antara Mitra

Executive Director

Contact Community Services


Contact supports suicide prevention training for NY school staff (Your Letters) –