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County Offers Free Depression Screenings

The County of San Diego will continue a weeklong series of free depression screenings today in hopes of making the act of seeking help more convenient and less intimidating.

According to the American Society of Suicide Prevention, 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.

"These deaths are tragic and many people suffering from depression suffer in silence,'' said Nick Macchione, director of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. "Mental disorders are just like any other illness and need to be treated accordingly.''

Trained mental health volunteers will administer the screenings to adults throughout the remainder of week at about 20 sites around the county, said county spokesman Tom Christensen. Individuals who require immediate intervention or referral for ongoing help will be able to meet with an experienced mental health clinician, he said.

"We have to get beyond the stigma associated with mental illness and allow people to feel comfortable seeking help,'' said Alfredo Aguirre, director of the HHSA Mental Health Services. "These screenings are another way in which someone can conveniently get information on the resources that are out there.''

Three screening events were scheduled for today: 11 a.m. at the UPAC-EMASS Community Center, 200 North Ash St., in Escondido; at 1 p.m. at the Tri-City Medical Center, 4002 Vista Way, in Oceanside; and at the Santee Library, 9225 Carlton Hills Blvd. at 4 p.m.

A complete listing of screening times and locations, is available through the county's 24-hour Access and Crisis Line, which can be reached at (800) 479-3339 or online at countynewscenter.com or sdchip.com, or by calling 211.

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