Concerns over North Bay Fire victims' mental health

- It's been more than a month since wildfires killed dozens, devastated communities and destroyed thousands of homes in the North Bay.  

Over the weekend Sonoma County authorities say a man shot and killed himself outside the site where his home once stood before the fire. Although the reason that man took his own life it's unclear county officials say they're really concerned for resident's mental health.   

"People had to flee the fires and actually run for their lives and then went back the next day and say the devastation," says Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane.  

Mike Baker was one of those who lost their homes.  For nearly 20 years mike barker lived in this Santa Rosa neighborhood.  But last month the home he built was destroyed when the Tubbs Fire tore through his neighborhood.

"It was hard to come back to see it. But I can't imagine doing it over again. That's the hardest part is how am I going to do it over again," says fire Victim Mike Barker. 

He shared cellphone video with us. It shows Barker driving away from his home which was destroyed.  He along with many people in the North Bay are going through a grieving process.  His outlet work. 

"You just get up every day. I don't think about the negative. I think about going forward with the project," says Barker.  However, for others, it's a lot tougher.  

"Everything they knew to come and love and accept went away from them overnight.  That type of trauma is huge," says Zane.  

For 20 years Zane worked in health and human services as well as a family therapist.  She says the loss from the fire is felt all across the county.  Now more than ever people need to rally together.

"Untreated depression can very easily lead to suicide, it happens all the time. So does depression kill you?  Yes it can," says Zane.  

With the upcoming holidays, many people will be spending them in unfamiliar places. Because what once was their home is no longer. Zane says she's worried about the long road ahead after the holiday season. 

"Suicide rates jump actually after the holidays, not before the holidays, because people are often together during the holidays. That togetherness needs to stick with us."

Zane says the county has received federal grant money for a training crisis counselors.

Mental Health & Wellness: Sonoma County recovers  

Mental Health Programs 
 

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