A recent survey of teenagers in the area indicated as many as one in five reported symptoms of clinical depression.
As many as one in ten reported they had considered taking their own lives in the last year.
Those statistics have led the Four County Family Services Center to assemble a coalition to prevent suicide. That group is focusing its efforts on teens.
Kathy Short, director of Four County Family Services, said the figure of 15% to 25% of youth having reported symptoms of depression “initially caught our attention. That’s high.
“And when you figure one in ten (consider suicide), that’s something to take seriously,” Short said.
Especially considering that 90% of those who commit suicide were depressed.
The situation is made even worse because teens considering suicide often don’t talk about their thoughts.
“Teens don’t want to talk to adults. There’s still a stigma (attached to suicide). They won’t talk to each other.”
In The Area
Short said there have been teen suicides in the fourcounty area. Recently, there was one confirmed suicide, and one case that could have been a suicide.
Two years ago there were two in Henry County– and those cases led to multiple attempts afterwards.
“That sparked the coalition,” Short said.
“Just because it happened one place doesn’t mean it can’t happen somewhere else,” she said.
The coalition is made up of health departments, school guidance counselors, mental health professionals, the Four County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services, (ADAMhs Board), and First Call For Help.
Tante Lovins, a prevention specialist with Family Services, said the group offers training to adults– “training that adults understand,” she said.
Lovins said the training covers questions such as what is depression, and how to get help. She said the training tries to help people get more comfortable talking about the subject.
“We want to increase awareness that depression is treatable, and suicide is preventable,” Lovins said.
With funding from the ADAMhs Board, Lovins said the coalition has placed ads in sports programs at some schools, recently run public service announcements on radio stations, and has an ad showing before movies at Skye Cinema, Wauseon.
The current economic situ- ation has put a lot of stress on families, Short and Lovins said. If one or both parents are out of work, they can become stressed.
“If the parents are stressed, it carries over to the whole family, because the children know what’s going on.”
That could translate into suicidal thoughts, “especially for those who already have a depressive illness.”
Lovins said recent losses are factors in suicide.
“It could be anything, (from) a recent job loss, to a (romantic) break-up,” Lovins said.
“Just one (suicide) is too many,” Short said.
Suicide Warning Signs
If a person is considering taking his own life, he may exhibit some of these warning signs:
•Feelings of Hopelessness or Helplessness.
Tante Lovins, a prevention specialist with the Four County Family Services Center, said the person might be unable to see any way his situation will ever improve. ì They don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
•Increase in Drug or Alcohol Use.
Lovins said drug or alcohol abuse is the second biggest risk factor in suicides; the first is suffering from clinical depression.
•Giving Away Prized Possessions.
“That’s their way of saying goodbye,” Lovins said.
•Talking, Writing, or Drawing About Suicide.
“In letters, journals, emails, the story revolves around suicide,” Lovins said.
•Sudden Happy Moods.
“All of a sudden, they’re happy. They’ve made up their mind, they know what they’re going to do– they’ll be out of their pain soon,” Lovins said. If you know someone who displays any of these
indicators, or if you are considering suicide,
Lovins recommends calling:
•First Call for Help;
can be reached by dialing 211 on most phones; otherwise: 1-800-468-4357.
specifically targeted to teenagers, but can be called by anyone, such as parents concerned about a teen: 1-877-419-SAFE (7233).