Run brings awareness to suicide problem

Some statistics just jump off the page at you. For example, on average in Ohio, one person dies by suicide every six hours. While the state’s suicide rate dropped last year to its lowest point in more than a decade, it still accounted for 10.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Nationwide, more than 41,000 people died by suicide – roughly one death every 13.7 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Sept. 10, 2016, Shawnee Family Health Center (SFHC) will be holding its Second Annual, Shine A Light on Suicide Awareness 5K Walk/Run. Money raised through the event will go toward suicide prevention and awareness activities in this area. Janie Haas, Center Promotion Specialist for Shawnee Mental Health, said those interested in participating can register online at All pre-registrants will receive a custom designed t-shirt. Registration begins at 9 a.m.; the race begins at 10 a.m. at Tracy Park, Portsmouth.

“They can register early because we’re going to have people there early, set up and ready to go,” Haas said. “It officially starts at 9 but we’re prepared for earlier.”

She said the race will run rain or shine. Free food, music, some raffles and speakers will follow the race. Top winners in each category will receive an award. Anyone needing more information can contact Janie Haas at 740-352-8687.

“All of the proceeds will go to our community,” Haas said. “It will stay right here. Like we did last year, we will use it for training. We’ll continue our group that we have for the people who have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide. We’re going to be doing a lot of training for different schools. Whatever funding is needed, that’s what we’ll use it for.”

Last year’s proceeds were used to send eight mental health professionals to the annual Suicide Prevention Conference in Columbus and they have also started a support group for the loved ones of suicide victims. The next support group will begin on Sept.15at 6 p.m. at Shawnee Family Health Center at 901 Washington Street. You do not need to be a client of Shawnee to participate in this group and the group is being provided at no charge to all participants.

Shawnee has also linked up with other community agencies, including SOMC, The Counseling Center, The Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, Shawnee State University, local schools, and more to form a suicide awareness and prevention coalition. The coalition is developing a speakers’ bureau and a crisis response team. A kick-off to educate the community about the coalition is being planned for November.

In addition to the coalition, Shawnee is participating in a statewide initiative sponsored by the Ohio Department of Mental health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) to reduce the number of suicides of people in care. “Deaths due to suicide are too common and are devastating to all who knew and loved the person before he or she died. Frequently, such deaths are preventable, and as more of us become familiar with the risk factors for suicide and how to intervene, we will lose less Ohioans to this tragic event and help them recover to see a better and brighter day,” OhioMHAS Medical Director Dr. Mark Hurst said in a recent OhioMHAS press release.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text “START” to 741-741.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.