Ashland County Mental Health and Recovery Board building. Credit: Dillon Carr

ASHLAND — Dave Ross wants to talk about suicide — and ways to prevent it. 

The executive director of the Ashland County Mental Health and Recovery Board (MHRB) visited county commissioners last month to promote September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Since then, MHRB has done a number of things to spread awareness of the nation’s 11th leading cause of death. Every week this month, MHRB has sent out information to everyone on the county’s suicide prevention coalition. 

The information sent helps people “understand suicide, but also how to help somebody who might be struggling.” 

The board has also been spotlighting its Grievers of Suicide Support group, held the second Wednesday every month and offered to people aged 18 and older who have experienced loss by suicide.

Another resource Ross has highlighted is Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) — an evidence based approach used to help prevent suicides. MHRB offers training on the method.

“Just like with CPR, we teach folks to understand, recognize, listen for, look for certain signs that might indicate somebody’s at risk for suicide and how to ask the question,” Ross said.  

MHRB also produces a podcast dubbed Keeping Ashland Healthy. The podcast hosts people who speak on a variety of topics, suicide prevention included.

The month will culminate into a somber event, when MHRB will sponsor its seventh annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Walk. It’s held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 24. 

Participants will gather at Ashland University’s convocation center. From there, they walk along Claremont Avenue to Corner Park to honor, remember and support “those who have been impacted by suicide.” 

By the numbers

There were 49,449 suicides in the U.S. last year, the highest on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the numbers but has not yet calculated a suicide rate for 2022. 

However, data suggests suicides are more common in the U.S. than at any time since the dawn of World War II, AP reported in August

In Ohio, deaths by suicide increased in 2021 by 8% over the previous year to 1,766. That number, however, represents a slight decrease of 2018’s 10-year high of 1,836, according to the Ohio Department of Health. 

“The data means that five Ohioans die by suicide every day, and one youth dies every 34 hours,” reads a press release issued in May by DOH.

The numbers in Ashland County have decreased slightly. In 2021, there were seven deaths by suicide. In 2022, there were five. 

A newly formed committee led by Ashland County Health Department found four of the five deaths in Ashland County last year were caused by gunshot wounds. 

“The typical means for suicide tend to be overwhelmingly gunshots,” Ross said. 

Of those five deaths, two were females and three were males. The age range, according to the committee’s findings, was 23-57. 

Lead reporter for Ashland Source who happens to own more bikes than pairs of jeans. His coverage focuses on city and county government, and everything in between. He lives in Mansfield with his wife and...