OHIO VALLEY — With September being recognized as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, The Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board wants to remind the community to keep a watch for signs and changes in loved ones behavior and to not be afraid to speak about mental health.
According to data provided by the board, between the years of 2004 and 2013 roughly 16.4 to 20.3 suicides happened on average per 100,000 people in Gallia and Jackson County. In Meigs County, that number was slightly lower at 14 to 16.3 per 100,000 people.
GJM Board of ADAMH Deputy Director Angela Stowers said the rate was likely connected to the opioid epidemic in the area as well as high rates of poverty.
Individuals suffering a crisis are asked to text “4Hope” to 741741 to mark the text as from the Ohio area and can expect a reply from a trained crisis counselor within five minutes. The message is considered confidential and secure. If an individual’s cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon the text line does not charge and nothing should appear on a phone bill.
Nationally there are around 10 rescues a day from individuals seeking help. Many of those individuals may be debating suicide, having panic attacks or suffering from a drug crisis and need direction. Counselors seek to guide individuals through difficult times and, if the caller is willing, point them in the right direction for treatment. The crisis text line has a feature described as active rescue. When a texter is deemed an immediate danger to themselves, according to information provided by Stowers, the trained crisis counselor will engage an active rescue. A counselor then connects with emergency dispatch services to send emergency services to the texter to prevent self-harm.
Stowers emphasized this number does not replace the need for 911 and should immediate physical danger be an issue, the public should contact their 911 center right away. Individuals suffering a crisis could also make use of the Woodland Center’s crisis number at 1-800-252-5554.
“You don’t ever know (if someone is thinking of hurting themselves),” said Stowers. “That’s when you be a good friend. You be a person that says ‘I see this. Are you okay?’ And a lot of people think that if you talk to someone about suicide it’s going to cause them to want to go completely suicidal…It’s a myth that bringing it up and talking to them is going to incite them to self-harm. It is okay to say ‘Are you thinking of hurting yourself?’ and to start that conversation.”
According to Stowers’ information, of those who texted the 741741 number, 17 percent called in regards to concerns with depression, 15.5 percent called with family issues, 14.7 percent were experiencing romantic problems and 11.8 percent called with thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Roughly 243 active rescues have been recorded in Ohio since January 2017.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.