“The statistics for suicide in America are disturbingly high. It is tragic not only for the one whose life was cut short, but also for those loved ones left behind after their death. On average, there are 750,000 people a year whose lives are directly impacted by the suicide of a loved one. For many, these effects continue for years, even a lifetime,” according to a 2017 article in Psychology Today. (www.psychologytoday.com/)
September is the month to learn more about how to prevent suicide. All month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. The following observances are recognized: Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month; September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day; and Sept. 10-16 is National Suicide Prevention Week.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recognizes Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September. Help promote awareness by sharing images and graphics on your website and social media accounts. Use #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for Americans affected by mental illness. (www.nami.org/)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. Call (800) 273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
The 30th World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention takes place in 2019. Learn more about The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) at www.iasp.info/.
Suicide prevention in Ohio
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-34 in Ohio. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death overall in Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has a suicide prevention plan that includes the following:
• One: Prevention strategies educate the public on the signs exhibited by a person who may be considering suicide and suggest what others can do about it.
• Two: Treatment access for a person who has been identified to be struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide is a critical piece of the puzzle.
• Three: Postvention activities address the needs of those who attempted suicide and help loved ones cope with the loss of those who do take their own lives. www.mha.ohio.gov/.
The Ohio General Assembly allocated special funding in both the 2016-17 and 2018-19 biennial budgets to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) to develop comprehensive approaches that decrease Ohio’s suicide rates.
The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation sponsored a program called LOSS-Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors. The volunteer LOSS Teams ensure that those impacted by suicide have the immediate support needed to cope with their trauma.
In 2016, State Rep. Marlene Anielski introduced legislation (House Bill 440) that would designate the Saturday before Thanksgiving as “Ohio Survivors of Suicide Loss Day” to promote awareness for suicide loss. Gov. Kasich signed House Bill 440 into law in 2017.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month raises awareness and encourages education on how to prevent it. How is your county, city, community, and school going to promote suicide awareness and prevention in September 2018?
Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in southern Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.