LIMA — A sudden increase in deaths by suicide in Allen County appears to be subsiding, though suspected suicide deaths remained above their pre-pandemic rate last year, Ohio Department of Health data show.
Allen County reported 30 deaths by suicide during the first year of the pandemic, three times as many deaths attributed to suicide than the previous year, ODH data show.
About half as many suspected deaths by suicide were reported here in 2021.
The trend made Allen County an outlier in Ohio, as many counties saw a temporary decline in suspected deaths by suicide during the first year of the pandemic.
But emergency visits for suspected suicide attempts remain elevated, as Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center has seen an above average 14 suspected suicides per month in 2022, the health center reported earlier this month.
“A lot of times people feel desolate and alone, and that’s what leads them to contemplate suicide,” said Dr. David Kashan, a psychiatrist for Mercy Health, who noted that teens, young adults and older adults are at higher risk for contemplating suicide due to the stress of transitioning to adulthood or end-of-life loneliness.
Talking to someone who may be at risk for suicide shows “they have a support system,” Kashan said.
But anyone who is actively planning suicide should seek immediate help from an emergency room, where they can be evaluated and admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit until their condition stabilizes, which typically only takes a few days, Kashan said.
“There’s so many people out there struggling with mental health that don’t seek help because they’re unaware of the resources that exist and because they’re ashamed and stigmatized,” Kashan said.
He added: “There’s no difference between being depressed and taking an anti-depressant than there is having asthma and taking an inhaler. But I think society has stigmatized mental health so much that people feel ashamed, or they feel a sense of weakness by nature of needing an anti-depressant.
“That’s not the case. It’s a chemical imbalance.”
Call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 988