Many people across the national, state and even Huron County have found they could identify with these lyrics from rapper/singer Logic’s hit song “1-800-273-8255,” also known as the Suicide Hotline Song.
As the number of attempted and successful suicides continue to climb, all are asked to stop and consider how they can help make a difference for those struggling with such a battle.
And what better time to do so than this week — National Suicide Prevention Week, which is part of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Suicide rates climb in Huron Co.
With suicide being the second-leading cause of death among 10- to 18-year-olds in the United States, health professionals have urged parents, teachers and trusted adults to continue conversations about mental health early and often.
The Huron County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services is one of the local facilities offering help for those in a crisis situation and those in need of support.
Executive Director Beth Williams said even suicide rates in this area have increased.
“We have had quite a few suicides in Huron County,” she added.
“There’s a map that goes from 2013 to 2015, showing suicide deaths by county. Huron County is one of the highest ones. ... Suicides have been increasing dramatically over the last 10 years. To call people’s attention to that and to educate them on what they can do, and that the signs and symptoms are, I thing that’s part of why we have this as a (national awareness period).”
How to help
Williams and Dr. John Ackerman, a clinical psychologist and suicide prevention coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, offered recommendations for those who may show signs leading up to suicide, and for those that are in an immediate crisis situation.
Don’t wait for a crisis: “A good opportunity to talk about suicide or mental health issues is when things are going well,” Ackerman said.
Check in regularly: “Ask the child directly how they are doing and if they have ever had thoughts about ending their life,” he added.
Look for changes in mood and behavior: Ackerman said this could be a sign that something is wrong. For example, if a child seems really down and stops doing things he or she normally enjoy, or you notice significant changes in eating or sleeping.
“If they are isolating themselves, reach out to them,” Williams said. “If they start drinking a lot or taking drugs and at the same time are depressed, this could lead to suicide — even if it is often times accidental. It could still happen.”
Don’t ignore the signs: “If someone says they want to kill themselves, don’t ignore it,” Williams said. “If they start changing the way they’re acting, if they’re staying to themselves or if they’re depressed — don’t ignore that either.”
Be there for them: “Simply, just be there for them,” she said. “If someone had a heart attack or stroke, you wouldn’t leave them alone. It’s the same idea. You need to be there with them and get them into immediate medical help, which would be the emergency room if it’s after hours.
“Never leave anyone alone (in that state),” she added. “Even if they say, ‘Go away. Leave me alone,’ you need to be adamant and strong. You need to say, ‘I’m not going to leave you alone.’ Sometimes it can be hard because they can be angry and could say things (that could hurt). But you need to be strong and adamant and just be there for them.”
QPR training: Williams said the “best thing” anyone can do to help prevent someone they love from taking his or her own life is to take QPR training. QPR stands for question, persuade and refer.
“Question them about suicide,” Williams said. “You need to persuade them against it and then refer them to get help. QPR is like CPR but for suicide prevention and it’s taught at all Huron County schools. We also offer it to any business or organization in Huron County that may want to want to learn it. It’s pretty quick; it only takes a little over an hour to learn.”
Building resiliency in youth
Williams said MHAS started a curriculum-based support group in the Bellevue City Schools middle school last year, with plans to expand the program to four other schools in the county.
“It helps builds resilience in the youth,” she said. “This is for kids identified as being at risk. Hopefully, it’ll help build resiliency and give them the help they need.”
Williams said the program targets middle school students because that’s when they determined they have the best chance to “make a difference.”
“We have the best chance at helping them to grow into healthy adults that are dealing with things in a health manner,” she said.
Anyone who needs help or support or knows of someone who could use mental-health assistance — whether in a crisis situation or not — can call MHAS at 419-668-8649.
The national suicide hotline is 1-800-826-1306. Those seeking support or who are contemplating suicide can anonymously text 4hope to 741741 and receive a response within five minutes.
“We’ve definitely had active rescues (from those using the texting and calling hotlines),” Williams said, adding that the texting hotline has proven to be a very helpful avenue of reaching people.
“It’s very anonymous,” she said. “Especially for younger people, they’re more apt to text than make a phone call. And it’s good because you can text for anything. It’s not just for suicide. You can text and just say, ‘I feel terrible today,’ or ‘My boyfriend broke up with me.’ They’re there to give support.”
Following these tips can help save a life and help someone express the same sentiments as some of the Suicide Hotline Song’s closing lines: “I finally wanna be alive. I don't wanna die. I just want to live.”