As suicide rates have increased in recent years, a new organization called the Fayette County Suicide Prevention Coalition (FCSPC) was formed this past summer and is working toward assisting members of the community.
The coalition is organized under the Paint Valley ADAMH Board in Chillicothe although its attention is on Fayette County, according to Angie Mellott, the social media coordinator.
“As of right now, we have a lot of goals,” wrote Mellott in an email. “We want to focus on reducing the stigma and providing the community with education. There is a need for more mental health services in the county. Grief support and LOSS team was also mentioned. The group would like to sponsor a QPR training that could be held at the Ohio State Extension office in Fayette County.”
Another goal of the coalition, according to Mellott, is to establish education for the local schools on signs of suicide and ways to try to prevent it.
The next meeting will be held in January and more information will be released on it at a later date.
Anyone interested in the group or its activities “will be encouraged to attend,” wrote Mellott. “All FCSPC meetings are open to the public.”
Although they are open to the public, anyone who wishes to make a formal presentation at a meeting should request agenda time no later than two weeks before that meeting.
The primary roles of members include choosing officers, implementing the Suicide Prevention Plan, defining and participating in work groups, making recommendations to the officers and representing the FCSPC at public events, such as information fairs.
Data that Mellott shared from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that in 2017 suicide claimed the lives of over 47,000 people in the United States, making it the 10th leading cause of death.
For people between the ages of 10 and 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death while it was the fourth leading cause in people between the ages of 35 and 54.
The data further explains that the number of people who died by suicide in 2017 was more than double the number of homicides that year, as there were approximately 19,500 homicides.
The coalition shared signs to watch out for in others, which it gathered from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. These signs are organized into “talk, mood and behavior” categories.
Signs that come through a person’s speech may include topics of being a burden to others, feeling trapped, killing themselves, having no reason to live and experiencing unbearable pain.
Signs that could be seen in a person’s mood include depression, loss of interest, irritability, anxiety, humiliation and rage.
Signs that can be seen through behavior include increased use of alcohol or drugs, withdrawing from activities, giving away prized possessions, isolating from friends and family, sleeping too little or too much, looking for a way to kill themselves (such as searching online for materials or means), acting recklessly, visiting or calling people to say goodbye and aggression.
“People aren’t sure what to do, because there is such a stigma,” explained Mellott. “A lot of people will joke about feeling depressed, anxious, isolated or lonely. That is a defense mechanism. Pull them aside. Dig deeper. Tell them you are there for them and you care. Ask them how you can help and let them know they are not alone. If nothing else, tell someone your concern. Ignoring the situation may be the worst thing you could do.”
Currently, services available in assisting include Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health, Fayette County Memorial Hospital (FCMH) Senior Life Solutions and the FCMH Emergency Room.
“The coalition does not offer crisis services. If you or a loved one are in need of emergency services, call 911. If you are 65 or younger, need assistance and are not actively suicidal, I suggest calling Scioto Paint Valley at 740-335-6935. If you or your loved one needs assistance, are 65 or older and are not actively suicidal, call FCMH’s Senior Life Solutions at 740-333-2226. Again, for any emergency situation, call 911,” wrote Mellott.
Mellott wanted to remind everyone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts that “you are not alone” and that “you matter.” The Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be called at 1-800-273-8255 and is confidential.
When asked for advice for any young people who need assistance but may have families who do not believe strongly in mental illness, Mellott replied, “I understand your parents may not ‘believe’ in what you are going through. Trust me, your parents would rather you tell your teacher, counselor, a friend or call the lifeline and get the help you need rather than to get a call or visit from the police to be told that their child has passed away from suicide. No parent wants that.”
When asked for advice for those who avoid getting help as they do not want to be labeled or placed on medication, Mellott replied, “Everything you do in regards to mental health is strictly HIPPA protected. As far as medications today, a drug that was strictly used for one thing years ago is used for 10 different things today.”
According to Mellott, suicide does not discriminate and people of various ages, ethnicity, genders, etc. are at risk. The main risk factors include a prior suicide attempt, depression and other mental health disorders, substance abuse disorder, family history of mental health or substance abuse disorder, family history of suicide, family violence (including physical or sexual abuse), having guns or other firearms in the home, being in prison or jail, being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior (such as a family member, peer or media figure), medical illness and being between the ages of 15 and 24 or over the age of 60.
“Even among people who have risk factors for suicide, most do not attempt suicide. It remains difficult to predict who will act on suicidal thoughts,” wrote Mellott.
“We are in our beginning phase,” she explained. “Our hope is to raise funds to get literature and training out to the community so that not only will people be aware of what to look for and how to react, but they will also know what resources are available to them. If anyone would like to donate to our coalition, it would be greatly appreciated.”
All donations can be mailed to Fayette County Suicide Prevention Coalition, c/o ADAMH, 394 Chestnut St., Chillicothe, OH 45601. The coalition can be followed through their Facebook page, “Fayette County Suicide Prevention Coalition,” or emailed at email@example.com.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.