It breaks my heart every time I hear Code 58 on my police scanner, it just seemed to me that I have been hearing it more than ever these days. I was sad to find out about the increasing suicide rate in Ashland County in 2023. I can only imagine the pain and grief that the families and friends must be going through. I too, have been affected by the devastating impact of suicide.
I remember attending the funeral of a fellow veteran not too long ago, someone I had deployed with during the Iraq conflict back in 2008. Witnessing the profound grief experienced by his friends, family, and other veterans was an incredibly difficult and heart-wrenching ordeal. The loss of a comrade is never easy to bear, but suicide adds a layer of complexity to the emotions involved.
Initially, I found myself consumed by anger.
How could he do this? I thought. What a selfish act! It felt unfair that we were left to grapple with the aftermath, while he never stopped to consider how his actions would impact all the people who cared about him.
In a conversation with my Army buddy, I expressed my frustration, saying, "All he did was amplify his problems and burdens and gave them to his family and friends." In that moment, I wished I had the answers to prevent such tragic outcomes, but I felt utterly helpless.
I often contemplate writing about this experience, hoping that my words might resonate with someone at their most vulnerable moment. However, what can I say to capture the complexity of suicide?
Even in Ashland County, a small community, the suicide rate has seen a significant increase, going from 4 in 2022 to 10 in 2023, and there is still a month left to go. One life lost is already too many, but 10? This is absolutely unacceptable. We must come together as a community, support one another, and work towards finding effective solutions to address this heartbreaking issue.
Unfortunately, the national suicide rate continues to climb too, with the highest number of suicides ever recorded, as reported by the CDC. Between 2000 and 2020, over 800,000 people lost their lives to suicide in the United States alone, with males accounting for 78.7% of those numbers. In 2022, the CDC recorded approximately 49,500 suicides, which was the highest number on record.
It's disheartening to witness this alarming trend, but it also serves as a reminder of the urgent need for support and resources to address the mental health crisis at hand.
I reached out to Jerry Strausbaugh EdD, LPCCS, Executive Director Appleseed CMHC, known for his bold voice on mental health issues.
According to Jerry, suicide should not be perceived as a spontaneous act, but rather a consequence of underlying chronic problems ranging from mental health and substance use to relationship struggles. When individuals find themselves in a state where their thinking becomes narrower and they believe that ceasing to exist is the only solution, it is crucial to intervene and offer support.
Jerry emphasizes the importance of reaching out to those we suspect may be struggling, asking them directly if they are contemplating suicide. By demonstrating genuine care and ensuring them of available resources, we can play a vital role in guiding them towards the help they need.
In case of an immediate crisis, Appleseed has a 24/7 crisis hotline 419-289-6111 or 1-888-400-8500.
There is a national hotline accessible by dialing 988. There is also a national crisis text line. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime.
If you have concerns or further questions about a friend or family member, you can call Appleseed's main number at 419-281-3716.
Furthermore, Appleseed provides support through the Grievers of Suicide Support Group of Ashland County. On January 10, 2024, from 6:15 PM to 8:00 PM, This is a recurring meeting: Second Wednesday of every month from 6:15pm to 8pm is held at the Brethren Care Village Wellness and Community Center. Designed for individuals aged 18 and above who have experienced the loss of a loved one due to suicide, these meetings offer a safe space to share and heal. The topic for this particular gathering is the Suicide Grief Support Group, led by Pam Lemaster. If you are interested, a Zoom link is available upon request.