Late last month at the Possible Dreams auction for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, David Araujo, head of the Island Intervention Center, spoke passionately about efforts to combat suicide, drug, and mental health issues on the Island.

After the speech, auctioneer Sherry Truhlar opened up the bidding, asking guests to raise their paddles if they’d like to donate $1,000. An arm quickly shot in the air.

“We’d like to donate $3,000,” the voice said. “In honor of David Araujo.” More arms went in the air. By the end of the bidding frenzy, Community Services had raised almost $30,000 before the live auction began.

Mr. Araujo, who grew up on the Vineyard and graduated from the regional high school in 1984, worked as a therapist and counselor for Community Services for 14 years before he was tapped to head the intervention center in 2016. Since then, he has started a family, coached varsity football and track for nearly a decade, and led the intervention center as it has undertaken initiatives focused on reaching Islanders at risk before mental health, suicide, and drug addictions hit a crisis point.

“David’s the real deal,” said Julie Fay, executive director of Community Services. “We had run emergency services to the Island under contract with the [state] department of mental health for over 40 years,” she added, “but that looks at a person who is the peak of their crisis. We knew that if we could have a special care center where we could intervene before a person escalated to that level, we would have a much better chance of forestalling a full-blown crisis.”

Dukes County has one of the highest suicide rates in the state, along with high rates of drug use and alcoholism.

“It’s not surprising,” Ms. Fay said. “We are an isolated Island with a resort economy, which means that when the dark days of the winter come, there’s not much in the way of work for most people.” She also cited the Island housing crisis and high cost of living as factors that can contribute to addictive behavior and mental health issues.

Since his days as a counselor, Mr. Araujo has worked firsthand with Islanders facing these struggles.

“To me, the hardest group affected by that is [ages] 18 to 26,” Mr. Araujo said. “They don’t have enough work experience, they don’t have enough financial resources a lot of the time, and they often don’t have support.” He remembers talking to young adults who spent their lives couch surfing, unable to afford or find a stable home environment.

“They were on a couch a week, just bouncing all over the place,” he said.

After graduating from high school, Mr. Araujo ran track at the University of Connecticut and then the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He had no idea he would become a licensed mental health professional.

“I never thought of that,” he said. “My bachelor’s degree is in economics. I thought I would do something like that. I thought I would wear a suit.”

It wasn’t until he graduated from college and started working at a tutoring program for low and middle-income students in Wareham called Upward Bound that he realized he wanted to work with kids. He spent nine years in Boston as a contractor from the state Department of Public Health, and eventually decided to get his master’s degree so that he could come back to work in counseling on the Vineyard.

“I knew when I got my degree that I was coming home,” he said. “I was going to work where I knew the population, I knew the landscape, I knew the people.”

Since 2004, Mr. Araujo has immersed himself in the community. Along with his varsity coaching responsibilities, he coaches junior high basketball, fifth and sixth grade basketball, and fifth and sixth grade football. His 11-year-old son, Ryan, is involved with all those sports, plus lacrosse — which makes Mr. Araujo the happiest.

“Lacrosse is the one sport that I never played that Ryan can call his own,” he said.

His involvement with the Island community also centers around work. At the intervention center, Mr. Araujo has adopted the DPH’s zero suicide tolerance policy.

“We’ve had a number of suicides on the Island,” he said. “So trying to stay vigilant, and trying to support the community, and trying to get the information out and get resources to people before they get to that level of care is a huge part of what we’re doing.”

The intervention center has trained law enforcement with appropriate mental health and substance abuse protocol, initiated a boots-to-ground campaign to distribute one-page resource pamphlets in the community, undertaken question-persuade-refer training to increase suicide awareness among its staff, and is in the middle of organizing its first annual suicide prevention walk. The walk will take place Sept. 29 and follow a path from the Bend in the Road to the second bridge. Like other suicide prevention walks nationwide, it will begin at dawn, allowing participants to walk from darkness into light.

Mr. Araujo stressed the importance of the center’s staff whom he called remarkable. “I don’t do this alone,” he said. “I have to give some love to my staff. They’re in the hospitals, they’re the front-line people. Without them, I can’t do what I do.”

He especially singled out his mentor, Community Services assistant executive director and senior clinical supervisor Tom Bennett. “Tom’s been a cornerstone to the Island community for the past 30 years,” Mr. Araujo said. “The reality is, it took me two to three years to figure out who I was as a therapist, to establish my routine and be confident in my skill set. Some of the stuff you’re dealing with is scary. That’s why supervision is important, and why any time that there’s anything tough or difficult, I’m going to Tom.”

Mr. Araujo’s other close confidantes are his family. Because the intervention center is a 24-hour service, Mr. Araujo often has to be on call late into the night, which can be difficult for a couple with a young child. His wife Jen works in the accounting department at the hospital.

“She’s been fantastic about this, she really has,” Mr. Araujo said.

Mr. Araujo is also close to his mother, who happens to live within walking distance of his office.

“I can see her for lunch,” he said. “She’s the person I go to. She’s a huge part of what I do.”

For other Islanders, Mr. Araujo is that person they can go to, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The commitment doesn’t faze him. While he thinks the intervention center has done a good job reaching out to Islanders across the spectrum, including the Brazilian population here, he wants to expand the outreach to other minorities, like Jamaicans and Eastern Europeans.

“It’s always a matter of building bridges, and creating resources and creating relationships,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep our people healthy and safe.”