Raising awareness is goal of suicide prevention coalition event

| September 25, 2017

Jessica Paynter and Leane Rohr, co-chairs of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Coshocton County, hold an awareness sign at their outreach program held Saturday, Sept. 23 at Clary Gardens. Jen Jones | Beacon

Kelsey Bolitho and Mandy Brenly found a quiet place at the Suicide Prevention Event to remember Bolitho’s brother, Kyle. She lost her brother four years ago to suicide and wishes she could ask him why he felt like he couldn’t talk to someone about his problems. Jen Jones | Beacon

COSHOCTON – Despite the heat, A Ray of Hope, a suicide prevention outreach event, drew a continuous crowd on Saturday, Sept. 23 at Clary Gardens. More than 40 vendors lined the walks in the gardens for people to enjoy and music was shared by Brad Fuller and The Realm. Food was offered by Austin’s Kettle Corn and Trot and Pace Café.

Leane Rohr, co-chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Coshocton County, said that September is Suicide Awareness month and their event is to raise awareness of the signs a person considering suicide might display and to decrease the stigmatism surrounding suicide. “Many people believe if they ask someone if they are considering hurting themselves, it might give them an idea they hadn’t had before. This is simply not true. If you are worried enough to ask, they have already thought about harming themselves.”

Some signs you should be aware of include increased alcohol or drug use, giving away their personal belongings, becoming suddenly happy, or talking vaguely about suicide, such as “I don’t think anyone would care if I wasn’t here.” If you see any of these signs, you should ask that person if they are thinking about hurting themselves. Rohr advises everyone to not be afraid to ask hard questions.  “Sometimes, just knowing someone cares enough to ask about them is enough to stop a person from considering suicide.”

Jessica Paynter, co-chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Coshocton County, was the speaker for the event. At last year’s event, Paynter shared her story of suicide attempts and trying to get her life together. “Last year, I didn’t feel like my story was finished. I was still dealing with a lot of stuff and sharing my story was hard. This year, I feel so much better. I’m engaged to a great guy. I never dreamed I could help arrange an event this big.”

One of the people attending the event was Kelsey Bolitho. Four years ago, her older brother, Kyle, committed suicide. “He was strong, protective, a good listener.  Just an awesome big brother. I think about him every day.” Bolitho said some days are harder than others. A few days before the event, she had a tough time after hearing a song. “People don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to talk about Kyle, cause they think I might get upset. Even family members don’t want to talk.”  Bolitho said one good thing has come from losing her brother. “I can empathize with people more. I’m more understanding of the problems they have.” She also shared that counseling is a good idea for the surviving family and that it feels good to talk about her brother with people who knew him. “I just wish I could ask him why he thought he couldn’t talk to anyone.”

Rohr and Paynter want to urge everyone to help raise awareness. Talk to anyone you are concerned about. If you are concerned, the sheriff’s office will make a well-check on that person. If you are considering suicide, talk to someone – anyone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is monitored 24/7. Please call 1-800-273-8255 to get the help you need.

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