Press Release – Suicide Prevention Day Sept. 10 2023 – Summary
September 11, 2023
CREATING HOPE THROUGH ACTION
September 10th, World Suicide Prevention Day
Lake County, OH: Local communities in Lake County and around the world came together on September 10, 2023, to honor and remember those lost to suicide and the strides taken to fight the stigma around mental illness by those left behind.
Observed on September 10 annually, World Suicide Prevention Day is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and endorsed by the World Health Organization. This day was an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and mental illness and to promote action through proven means that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts globally.
The Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board and the Suicide Prevention Coalition partnered with multiple agencies across the county to share a day of events with the community. The community partners were: Crossroads Health, Signature Health, NAMI, Torchlight Youth Mentoring Alliance, Auburn Career Center, University Hospitals, Highland Springs, Windsor Laurelwood, WomenSafe, Lake County General Health District, OhioLiving, Job and Family Services, Veterans Affairs, Eastlake Police Department, Mentor Police Department, Hospice of the Western Reserve, Lakeland Community College, and community members.
Creating Hope through Action was the theme for 2023, it was a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and a light in all of us; that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling. Preventing suicide is often possible and we are a key player in its prevention. “Through action, you can make a difference to someone in their darkest moments – as a member of society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbor. We can all play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide,” said Kim Fraser, Executive Director of the Lake ADAMHS Board.
Suicidal thoughts are complex. No single approach works for everyone. People who experience suicidal thoughts may feel trapped or like a burden to their friends, family and those around them and thus feel like they are alone and have no other options. By creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them.
The Lake County ADAMHS Board provided an open forum for multiple people to share their stories. Josh Stewart a local resident that have been affected by suicide said “I have my son by suicide and it has changed my outlook on life forever. I am here to support those that are living this “new normal” each day”. Don Lambert also spoke stating “In the old days, they used to call it the easy way out. But depression isn’t an easy way to live your life. At that time they only think about themselves, they think it is easy. But they’re not thinking about the pain and anguish you are putting everyone else through. The hurt and pain your family will feel knowing they couldn’t help you because they will always love you.”
How do we create hope through action?
- Reach In: You can help give someone hope by showing that you care. All of us can play a role, no matter how small. We may never know what we do that makes a difference. We all can reach in and ask somebody. You do not need to tell them what to do or have solutions, but simply making the time and space to listen to someone about their experiences of distress or suicidal thoughts can help. Small talk can save lives and create a sense of connection and hope in somebody who may be struggling.
- Encourage Understanding: Stigma is a major barrier to seeking help. Changing the narrative around suicide through the promotion of hope can create a more compassionate society where those in need feel more comfortable in coming forward to seek help. We can all do something to live in a world where suicide is recognized and we can all do something to help prevent it.
- Share Experiences: The insights and stories of people with a lived experience of suicide can be extremely powerful in helping others understand suicide better and encourage people to reach in to support someone, and for individuals to reach out for help themselves. It’s really important that the person sharing their story knows how to do so in a way that is safe for them and for those who hear their story. Personal stories of an individual’s experiences of significant emotional distress, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and their experiences of recovery being bereaved by suicide can inspire hope in others that they too can move through the period of distress or crisis, and their insights can help others understand what it means to feel suicidal and how they can support others. Individuals sharing experiences of being bereaved through suicide and how they came to live their ‘new normal’, can help others experiencing suicidal loss make sense of the devastation of suicide and believe they will be able to live through and with the loss.
By encouraging and understanding, reaching in and sharing experiences, we want to give people the confidence to act. To prevent suicide requires us to become a beacon of light to those in pain.
The Lake County Board of Commissioners recognized the Lake ADAMHS Board and the Suicide Prevention Coalition by dedicating September 10th as Suicide Prevention Day in Lake County at their board meeting on September 7th. But this event was more than just Lake County, this was a global movement of understanding, compassion, and change. “When we come together as a community to remember those we have lost, we are bringing awareness and helping to stomp out the stigma surrounding suicide,” said John R. Hamercheck, Lake County Commissioner President.
One in every 100 deaths worldwide is the result of suicide. “Mental illness can affect anybody and one of the messages of this day is that the people who lose their lives by suicide are our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters – they are loved and they are missed,” said Lake County Commissioner, Richard J. Regovich.
Many may question if suicide deaths are even in Lake County? Yes, unfortunately, death by suicide is in every county in Ohio, including here in Lake County. In 2022, there were 24 suicides in Lake County. The median age was 55 years old with 75% of the deaths being male and 25% being female. 54% of the deaths were caused by a gunshot wound, it was the most common connection to death by suicide. Without a doubt, there are completed suicides in Lake County but there will continue to be services available for those having suicidal thoughts and needing help.
“Connecting with residents and community members on their lived experiences touched by suicide is a powerful motivator to keep pushing forward on the awareness and access to treatment for mental illnesses,” said John Plecnik, Lake County Commissioner.
About the Lake County ADAMHS Board: The Lake County ADAMHS Board plans, funds, monitors, and evaluates services available to residents who are living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. www.HelpThatWorks.us
Suicide Preventions Coalition: Our goal is to eliminate suicide by empowering the Lake County community in reducing suicide stigma through knowledge, resources, support/help, and recovery for a promising tomorrow.
Josh Stewart from the Breaking the Stigma Car Show.