State creates plan to lessen suicides: Effort is first-ever collaboration for Ohio

Published 8:23 am Tuesday, March 3, 2020

DAYTON — In response to an uptick in the number of deaths by suicide, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine joined with Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) director Lori Criss and leadership from the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation to introduce the first-ever, collaborative Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio that will direct the state’s suicide prevention efforts over the next three years.

“I can’t think of anything more gut-wrenching for a family than losing someone to suicide. In Ohio five people a day die by suicide, and a youth dies by suicide every 33 hours. These are sobering statistics and it will take all of us working together to make an impact and reduce the number of deaths by suicide across the state. One of the goals of my RecoveryOhio initiative is to address mental health and other issues that lead to death by suicide.  While the RecoveryOhio’s Initial Report offered preliminary recommendations that begin to address suicide, The Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio that we are releasing today furthers the conversation. It is meant to guide discussions and strategies among advocates, health partners and state agencies as we work to prevent suicide,” said Gov. DeWine.

“As a first step to further our shared vision, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is working with the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and its members to develop a partnership with primary care and behavioral health providers, schools, parents, caregivers, and other community allies to increase suicide prevention and intervention practices,” said director Criss. “Ultimately, this work will bring about a system-wide commitment to reduce suicides, build a competent, caring workforce and reach all youth at-risk of suicide to get them the support and treatment they need.”

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Under the direction of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes evidence-based suicide prevention practices, the plan was written by a group of 33 Ohioans from the public and private sectors who have professional or personal experience with suicide. The plan directs energy, focus and resources to implement specific goals and objectives. These objectives were informed by data, evidence-based approaches and lessons learned from current practice.

Among the plan’s priorities, the state will:

• Raise awareness of the warning signs and risk factors of suicide.

• Concentrate efforts on integrating suicide prevention practices into health care, public safety and education services on the local and state levels.

• Build suicide prevention capacity and infrastructure at the organizational, local and state levels.

• Focus prevention efforts on groups identified as having higher rates of suicide, including youths ages 10-24, males ages 25-59 and veterans and military members.

• Standardize, gather and utilize data to continuously inform and evaluate the state’s approach.

“The Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio was created so that all communities can see their role in suicide prevention, while suggesting specific goals to give benchmarks to the community,” said Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. “The plan promotes local cooperation that focuses on preventing suicide.  As more partners collaborate, we work to break down the stigma that surrounds the subject of suicide.”

In November 2019, the Ohio Department of Health released its 2018 Ohio Suicide Demographics and Trends Report, which contained the sobering news that five Ohioans die by suicide every day, and one youth dies by suicide every 33 hours. Nationally, U.S. suicide rates are at their highest since World War II, according to federal data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 to access the Active Duty/Veterans Crisis Line) to speak with a trained counselor. Ohioans can also text the keyword “4hope” to 741 741.