Joan Wyler is chairperson of the Hamilton County Suicide Prevention Coalition. In this guest post, she shares information about the Coalition and its campaign, Life is Better With You Here.
Who is the Hamilton County Suicide Prevention Coalition?
The Hamilton County Suicide Prevention Coalition was formed in 2015 with representation from six mental health, alcohol/drug, and suicide specific organizations. The Coalition has grown to include:
Cincinnati Public Schools
First Step Home
First Ladies for Health
GLSEN Greater Cincinnati
Hamilton County Mental Health & Recovery Services
The goals of the Coalition are to increase knowledge of efforts through publicizing information about suicide facts, programs, and resources; teach recognition of warning signs of suicide and how to respond; and expand the Coalition membership to include partners that work with vulnerable populations.
To reach a variety of populations, the Coalition has partnered with universities, senior centers, social service organizations, school-based prevention teams, veterans programs, and clergy. Organizations continue to be engaged that serve individuals and families among the Latino, LGBTQ, and African American population. The broader the reach into specific vulnerable communities, the more informed people are becoming in the prevention of suicide.
Due to COVID closures during the past three years, programs were transitioned into virtual trainings and workshops. These included QPR gatekeeper suicide prevention and Language Matters programs. Community events included a virtual platform where prevention staff were available to respond to questions and disseminate information on suicide prevention. This included Recovery Services Resource Day, which targeted individuals with mental illness.
Life is Better With You Here
In partnership with the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, the Coalition launched the Life is Better with You Here to address increased suicide rates in the Black community.
According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), from 2019 to 2020, the suicide rate increased 8% for Black males and 14% for Black females, while it declined or remained the same for other populations. Listen for Life is Better With You Here messages on the radio and look for them on Metro buses, social media platforms, and at community events.
988 crisis line
To strengthen efforts to reduce suicide, the State of Ohio has made strides to improve opportunities for care and to break stigma around suicide and mental health. One such effort is the new 988 system, a universal emergency number for people experiencing a mental health crisis, including those at risk for suicide.
A major emphasis of the Coalition has been placed on messaging suicide prevention and publicizing resources. A focus has been placed on publicizing the crisis line, 988.
The 988 number has been incorporated into all messaging forms. It is heard on radio stations, viewed on Metro buses, broadcast on electronic signage in public spaces, and distributed on handouts at community events and health fairs.
Complementing the 988 number are handouts that include a QR code for prevention resources. By seeing and hearing the 988 number, it is hoped that 988 will become known to and accepted by the public.
You can also find reading and visual materials about suicide prevention at all branches of the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library.
Joan Wyler is Chairperson of the Hamilton County Suicide Prevention Coalition. You can reach her at Joan.Wyler@talberthouse.org.