Advocates push for early suicide intervention

Kent County

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — With tears in her eyes, Kelli Kobayashi said she still struggles to put her life back together after losing a big part of it four years ago.

“I can’t make sense of it,” Kobayashi said. “Often, survivors of suicide are left with lots of pieces that aren’t able to be put back together and I think Evan’s story is one of those cases.”

Kobayashi’s son, Evan, committed suicide when he was 17. Now she’s advocating for others who share the same struggles as he did. Her main focus is early intervention.

“We have to meet their basic needs first and mental health is one of them,” Kobayashi said.

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But mental health resources can be difficult to access.

24 Hour News 8 learned of three people who visited Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Cutlerville to seek immediate help. All three, who 24 Hour News 8 is not naming to protect their privacy, said they were told it would be at least a few months before they could see an outpatient psychiatrist after their initial urgent visit.

A wait that long, Kobayashi said, can be dangerous.

“Sometimes that can be a life-or-death situation,” Kobayashi said.

Pine Rest wouldn’t address any specific person’s situation, but said it has treated 1,400 people from across the state since its Psychiatric Urgent Care Center opened earlier this year.

“These patients are coming to Pine Rest because of the very limited availability of psychiatric care in Michigan,” a spokesperson said Monday.

“I think that calling attention to this need and providing the resources to address it is so extremely important,” Kobayashi said.

As she continues to advocate for immediate relief, Kobayashi does so with her son in mind.

“I would just want him to know that he is loved unconditionally, forever and always,” she said.

For more information on Pine Rest’s urgent care or to make an appointment, call 616.455.9200. Walk-ins are also welcome.

For people in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can always be reached at 1.800.273.8255 or online.

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