OHIO VALLEY — The Suicide Awareness Committees for Jackson, Gallia and Meigs counties have combined to one group, the Jackson-Gallia-Meigs Suicide Committee.
“The Gallia, Jackson, Meigs (GJM) Suicide Awareness Committee was formed to prevent suicide through awareness, education, collaboration, support, and improved access to mental health care and community resources. Our vision is suicide free communities,” according to the mission statement.
“Gallia, Jackson and Meigs, all had separate suicide awareness committees,” said Crystal Miller, Zero Suicide Care Transition coordinator. “Due to low engagement, trying to get people to all come together, I thought, it’d be just as easy because the ADAMH [Alcohol, drug and mental health] Board is Gallia, Jackson and Meigs…”
Miller said with the transition, comes bringing awareness that the coalition exists and invite people to get involved.
“You can’t expect people to come to stuff if they don’t know where they exist,” Miller said.
Miller said the original group for Gallia County was a spin-off of the Citizens for Prevention and Recovery (CPR) group and she had initiated the groups in both Jackson and Meigs counties.
Miller said the importance of the group is simple, awareness.
“That’s the basic thing that we’re trying to get started is to offer prevention and if there is a loss, be able to provide resources [to loved ones] for that also,” Miller said.
Miller said while the area numbers are low and she is thankful for that, any number is one that could potentially be preventable.
“In Ohio, approximately five people a day die by suicide,” Miller said. “In 2021, 13 people died by suicide in Gallia, Jackson and Meigs counties.”
Miller said the numbers usually lag a year behind, however she is aware of one suicide in the area this year.
“Suicide is a public health crisis and requires a multi-sectoral community approach,” Miller said.
Miller said not only do they want to make resources readily available to the community but want to make the services already available known.
“Resources for any groups, people if they’re looking for counseling, immediate help,” Miller said. “A lot of people don’t even [know] that we have a crisis line. We [have] a crisis text line, we’ve got resources out there. It’s just making people aware of them”
The Suicide Awareness Committee is not only looking for citizens to get involved, they hope to have some with lived experience join the group. Miller said those who have gone through times with suicide ideations or who have lost someone to suicide may have an easier time connecting with those going through the same thing.
Overall, Miller said she hopes various parts of the community can come together to assist in the prevention effort.
“That’s what we need for suicide prevention,” Miller said. “We need different people…we need mental health agencies, we need school people. We basically need different stakeholders all to come to the same table to try to work together.”
Miller said past efforts of the coalitions have included mass mailings with a message of hope, suicide prevention trainings, crisis contact material distributions and more.
Miller also provides Question. Persuade. Refer (QPR) trainings — a suicide prevention training for the community — on the first Thursday of each month at noon. The trainings have currently been completed via Zoom.
The Suicide Awareness Committee meetings are currently held via Zoom and are the second Tuesday of each month from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for more information contact Miller at 740-656-0167.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.