LIMA — Two advocate groups are bringing back the Allen County Suicide Prevention Coalition, which foundered in 2005 because of a lack of funding.
According to the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, Allen County ranks 68th among Ohio’s counties in the number of suicides and its rate of 9.5 suicides for every 100,000 people is well below the national average.
“We’re sort of at the bottom of the totem pole and that’s great but it doesn’t mean we don’t need to address it,” said Donna Dickman, director of Partnership for Violence Free Families.
The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen Auglaize and Hardin Counties is supporting the initiative.
Dickman, who told Allen County commissioners about the restart at their regular meeting Wednesday, said the coalition would focus on education for children, helping to get word out about resources for help and trying to reduce the stigmatism that comes with talking about suicide.
“If people don’t feel they can come out, if they’re embarrassed, they’re ashamed or they think they bring shame to their families they won’t seek help. Suicide is totally preventable. Oftentimes it’s because people are depressed. Depression is treatable. If we can get to the depression first, we’re going to nip the suicide in the bud.”
Numbers aren’t in yet for 2009, but the Ohio Department of Health recorded 37 suicides from 2006 to 2008. The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation says men ages 45 to 54 have the highest suicide rate in Allen County.
Dickman said the group plans to visit schools, county fairs and agencies on aging throughout Allen, Auglaize and Hardin counties.
The coalition will meet at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lima YWCA. Anyone is welcome. Call the Partnership for Violence Free Families at 419-228-8664 for information.