LIMA — It’s been nearly three years since Joyce Regula’s husband, Michael, took his own life.
She was one of several dozen people attending the 12th annual Allen County Suicide Awareness Walk Saturday in Lima.
“I just want to reach out to others and maybe try to help the survivors or someone who has depression. We go to the doctor for our physical maladies; let’s go for our mental [maladies],” said Regula.
Her husband’s bouts with suicidal thoughts and depression often centered around life-changing events “like someone passing away — my mother, my dad, his brother, his father,” she said.
The growth in suicide numbers is frighteningly high.
In Ohio, the rate of suicides rose up to 37 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“What we’re noticing is there are fewer people now dying of overdoses and more people taking their own lives. It’s, unfortunately, becoming an increasing problem,” said Michael Schoenhofer, executive director for the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties.
So what are some signs to look for in someone who is having suicidal thoughts?
“If somebody begins to act in a way that’s different than the normal way that they would act. They start to withdraw. They take time just for themselves. They’re not emotionally involved with friends. Those are the obvious signs. The problem is that sometimes people can hide those signs and unless you really are connecting and reaching out, it may be difficult to tell. A lot of people are surprised when a loved one takes their own life,” said Schoenhofer.
The walk itself started and ended at Trinity Park on West Market Street.
“What we hope to accomplish is to raise awareness. We have to reduce stigma in the community so we can talk about suicide openly because we can’t figure it out — how to prevent it — unless we have conversations. Stigma is overwhelming to where we don’t talk about it, and it’s events like these that bring it to the light and say, ‘It’s okay, we can talk about this, we can honor those we have lost and we can offer resources for those who need help,’” said Donna Dickman, director for the Partnership for Violence Free Families and an organizer of the Suicide Awareness Walk.
So what resources are available in the Lima area?
“We have support groups specifically to suicide loss that many people feel that are beneficial for them. We also have a Loss Team and we’re always recruiting new members, and this is where we go 24 hours to aid the family at the initial event. We also have mental first aid as a training to help understand better and to help those that we may be concerned about,” said Dickman.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.