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COLUMBUS, OH (March 28, 2017) – On average one person dies by suicide every five hours in the state of Ohio. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from the three Ohio chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting the state capitol on Wednesday, March 29th to encourage their legislative leaders to prioritize suicide prevention and mental health. Specifically, the advocates will be asking for legislation which would include training for health professionals and mandates for colleges to make information about suicide prevention clearly available.
“I hope that by visiting my elected representatives on Wednesday that I can encourage them to help the people of Ohio get the resources we need to bring real suicide prevention to our community,” said Heather Conroy, AFSP volunteer advocate. Ms. Conroy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and became involved with suicide prevention in 2013 when she lost her nephew, Braden Johnson to suicide.
Health Professionals Training
Health professionals regularly encounter patients who are suicidal. According to a study published in the Annuals of Psychiatry, in the month prior to their death, 45 percent of people who die by suicide had contact with a primary care physician, and 19 percent had contact with mental health services. In the year prior to their death, 77 percent of people who die by suicide had contact with a primary care physician, and 32 percent had contact with mental health services. But there is not a mandatory suicide prevention training session that health professionals are required to attend, so they are left untrained in how to deal with people who are suicidal. Six states currently require this training via statute including Kentucky, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and Utah.
College Campus Mandates
Life-saving information, such as improving access to crisis intervention hotlines or text services, the availability of mental health programs and services, and suicide prevention resources both on and off campus, could be made easily accessible by all college and university students, faculty and staff. Schools could also improve communication standards and a protocol for support of students, faculty and staff following a suicide death on campus. If schools were more transparent about mental health services they offer, it would reduce the fear and misinformation surrounding mental health and reinforce help-seeking behavior.
This is the third time advocates from AFSP have visited Columbus. Ms. Conroy is part of a larger national contingent of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in the spring of 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff.
Suicide in Ohio
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death overall in Ohio. For people aged 15-34 in Ohio, it is the second leading cause of death. For those aged 10-14, it is the fourth leading cause of death. More than twice as many people die by suicide in Ohio than by homicide.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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