(Canton, Ohio) – While September is annually celebrated as a month to recognize all the ways we can work together to prevent death by suicide, this year Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery (StarkMHAR) is calling special attention to this critical subject as the effects of COVID-19 continue to impact just about every life in our community.
To date, 40 lives have been lost to suicide in Stark County. 40 lives are 40 too many, and furthermore, recent research indicates that the grief and trauma from these 40 deaths extend substantially. The study, conducted by Julie Cerel at the University of Kentucky, has reported the following additional impacts from a single death by suicide: 135 are exposed (exposed refers to anyone who knows or identifies with someone who dies by suicide); 53 have short term disruption in life; 25 have a major life disruption, and 11 have devastating effects on their life. (These numbers include blood relatives.)
Locally, this means that so far this year, 40 people have died by suicide; 5,400 have been exposed; 2,120 have had short term disruption; 1,000 have had a major life disruption, and 440 have had devastating effects on their life.
“Anyone impacted personally by suicide could certainly validate just how deeply that death affects the family, loved ones, colleagues, and community, said John Aller, executive director of StarkMHAR. “To know there are thousands of residents affected in one way or another from the 40 deaths by suicide so far this year is a staggering reality – and a large part of why it’s crucial for everyone to understand what’s possible with the prevention, how we can reduce access to lethal means, why it’s important to connect attempt survivors to the right services and the ways we can support loss survivors.”
To raise awareness and help facilitate prevention efforts, all residents are invited to connect to The Stark County Suicide Prevention Coalition Facebook page (Facebook.com/StarkSuicidePrevention). All month long, coalition members and StarkMHAR staff will share education about suicide, how to reach out to others, and how to support those who have lost someone to suicide. Traditionally an awareness walk is held each year; these online connection efforts and other outreach will take its place for 2020.
While suicide prevention efforts can sometimes be viewed as reserved for clinicians or the medical community, everyone has a role to play. “Checking in” frequently on someone who may be struggling can help create feelings of connectedness and hope; it’s important to be aware of the resources available so if they are needed, they are known. The following are available 24/7/365:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Stark County Crisis Hotline: 330-452-6000
Crisis Text Line, text ‘4hope’ to 741-741
Trevor Project Lifeline for LGBTQ youth: 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
Military & Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1
Military & Veterans Crisis Text Line: 838255
Anyone can also learn the steps to take to turn their home into a “Safe Home.” A “Safe Home” has removed unnecessary risks for substance abuse and suicide; it is similar to childproofing a home when there are small children present. Learn more at starkmhar.org/prevention-resources/safe-home/.
More information on all the mental health resources available in the county can be located under the “Find Help” section of StarkMHAR.org.
About Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery
Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery is a multi-faceted organization of expert professionals, dedicated volunteers and concerned community leaders close to mental health and addiction needs right here at home. StarkMHAR is responsible for planning, funding and monitoring public mental health and addiction prevention, early intervention and treatment services delivered to the residents of Stark County. It is one of approximately 50 boards coordinating the public behavioral health system across Ohio. StarkMHAR also advocates for residents with behavioral health issues at both the local and state levels and provides educational opportunities for local providers and other community stakeholders. For more online about the work of StarkMHAR, visit www.StarkMHAR.org.