The statistics are staggering. There are on, an average, 123 suicides a day and from 1999 to 2016 approximately 630,000 people have died from drug overdoses. In addition, nearly 1 in 5 adults live with a mental illness of some sort.

With that in mind, the Riverside Masonic Lodge, founded in 1901, will be sponsoring a Mental Health First Aid Training Course on Saturday, March 23 at the Masonic Hall, 40 Forest Ave. in Riverside. The members, whose tenets include friendship, morality, brotherly love and strive for community and human welfare, feel offering the course helps the group to succeed in their mission.

Started by the West Suburban Community Memorial Foundation and its partners, which includes the Rotary Club of LaGrange and the Lyons and Proviso Mental Health Commissions, over 900 people have been trained as first-aiders through a five-step action plan to equip people with the tools necessary to help people experiencing problems. 

The course will participants be aware of the common signs of mental health issues, recognizing symptoms of substance abuse, how to interact with a person in crisis and, importantly, how to connect the person with the proper help.

While it’s common for people to receive training to assist others, whether it’s CPR training, recognizing allergic reactions or learning when to call 911, for the most part citizens are not equipped to assist in matters of mental health.

The March training course will be the second training session offered by the Riverside Lodge, the first being in 2018. The program was so well received that this year it will include training sessions in June and September. 

The eight-hour course will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 23. There is no cost to participate, but reservations are recommended and can be made by calling Michael Krusinsky at 708-995-3727. 

To learn more go to and learn why the organization believes “sometimes first aid isn’t a bandage or CPR, sometimes it is you.” Be part of the plan.