Commissioners spend time Thursday raising awareness for suicide prevention
Board hears from several guests related to the topic
[Tiffin, OH Sept. 12, 2019] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners spent time Thursday morning raising awareness for suicide prevention, as September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Mircea Handru, the executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties, kicked off the meeting by providing statistics about suicide.
Handru said suicide is not something that is talked about frequently within the community, but it is something that is impacting many throughout the area and the country.
In 2017, the last year when figures were confirmed by the state, there were 10 suicides in Seneca County. According to Handru’s projections, there were about 11 suicides in 2018 and there have been about seven so far in 2019. For additional data, see this link.
Handru said in the past few years, a suicide crisis text line was created to try and help those who are having suicidal thoughts. He said there were 142 texts sent to the crisis line last year. Among those texts, about 42 percent were from people who identified themselves as part of the LGBTQ community.
The number for the anonymous, 24/7 crisis line is 741741.
The commissioners also heard from Jason Herbert, who told a personal story about the loss of his best friend, Brian Cross, to suicide about 14 years ago. Herbert shared his story in hopes of raising awareness and trying to save lives.
Kathy Oliver, the director of Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services, also spoke during the meeting. She helps to organize Max’s Miles, an event to raise awareness about suicide prevention, in honor of her son Max who committed suicide three years ago. In part of Max’s note to his parents, he asked them to work to raise awareness about suicide.
The Max’s Miles event is Oct. 5 at Hedges-Boyer Park. It is to begin with registration at 9 a.m. The event is free and includes live music and raffles, food vendors, crafts and a 50/50 drawing. To learn more, see this handout or visit www.maxsmessage.org. You may also register at maxmiles.eventbrite.com.
Tiffin-Seneca Public Library also is hosting several events in hopes of openly discussing mental health issues and trying to raise awareness about suicide. On Oct. 10, Kevin Hines, the author of Cracked, Not Broken, is to speak to the public. Hines survived a suicide attempt via jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.tiffinsenecalibrary.org.
The board also approved a proclamation recognizing September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and agreed to turn the light out on the cupola of the justice center on Thursday and Friday to symbolize “a light going out.”
In other business, the commissioners agreed to hire Mary Zimmerman as an intermittent paramedic on the county’s Echo Unit.
County EMS Administrator Dani Gebauer introduced Zimmerman to the board. She said Zimmerman has been a medic for 29 years, and she retired from Tiffin Fire Rescue Division in 2013. She continues working in the Promedica Fostoria Community Hospital emergency department.
“We are happy to have her,” Gebauer said.
Also during the meeting, the commissioners accepted a recommendation from the county’s health insurance committee to keep health insurance rates for county employees stagnant this year. They also agreed to give county employees a premium holiday for November, which will lead to savings for each employee and will also put back about $100,000 in the county’s General Fund.
During new business, the board approved all resolutions from this week’s pre-meeting release in addition to:
* A $50,000 supplemental appropriation to the Help America Vote Act Fund for equipment. The money was provided via a state grant to enhance the cybersecurity of election systems in the county.