They will not guide ships home, but the Door County Mental Health Focus Group hopes lighthouses set up across the area will shine a light on the help available to those contemplating suicide. In 2020, the Door County Crisis Hotline received 667 calls, 128 of which resulted in workers following up with a more in-depth suicide risk assessment. The public awareness campaign centered around the lighthouses was born after a number of high-profile suicides occurred in the community. Members of Project 180 at area schools and the Door County Youth Connection Center helped decorate the lighthouses with messages of hope and the number for the crisis hotline. Door County Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Director Cori McFarlane says the number of calls to the crisis hotline has gone up since the pandemic began.
When the work is done, approximately a dozen large lighthouses and several smaller ones will be found in the community. Close to 890 people died of suicide in Wisconsin in 2020, including seven in Door County.