Suicide rates higher in WilCo than rest of state as Georgetown launches mental health expo

Williamson County

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — A one-stop shop for resources and programs aimed to tackle mental health issues is set for Thursday in Georgetown.

“It just breaks my heart to think that people feel like they have no other alternative,” Evelyn McLean said.

McLean, a 26-year Georgetown Police Department veteran and now the county’s Precinct 3 judge, is spearheading the expo following years of witnessing an uptrend in suicides and attempted suicides in the community.

“As a judge, I have to do a lot of death inquest and I am seeing a lot of suicides through that,” she said.

The Williamson County Precinct 3 Mental Health Expo is a first for the growing city. The free event will feature dozens of vendors including NAMI of Central Texas, Williamson County’s Mobile Outreach Team, Healthy Williamson County, Bluebonnet Trails as well as various representatives from health clinics, ministries and counseling services.

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“There’s always a certain percentage of the population, about 10-20% of the population, who will have some behavioral health issue at any given time,” Annie Burwell said.

Burwell leads the Williamson County Mobile Outreach Team, an agency focused on responding to mental health crises alongside EMS, firefighters and police officers. Since it first kicked off 15 years ago, they’ve added new team members each year in response to the growth.

In the last year, the county’s Mobile Outreach Team has saved taxpayers at least $150,000 by diverting persons with mental illness from arrest to behavioral health services.

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At present, the suicide rate in Williamson County is lower than the national average but higher than state rates. For McLean, suicides aren’t just statistics.

“From somebody who had their vehicle repoed that morning and committed suicide that night to a young child who hung himself,” McLean said recalling some of the stories she’s heard.

McLean said her goal is to ensure every Williamson County resident is aware of the resources available. The expo will be held at the Williamson County Georgetown Annex building from 6-8 p.m.

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