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Suicide Prevention Coalition gathers to remember and offer hope

| June 3, 2013
The Suicide Prevention Coalition had their memorial walk and butterfly release on Saturday, June 1 at the Himebaugh Lot. Pictured here are Roxana Conkle and Tom Wilson releasing the butterflies as a memorial and a symbol of hope.

The Suicide Prevention Coalition had their memorial walk and butterfly release on Saturday, June 1 at the Himebaugh Lot. Pictured here are Roxana Conkle and Tom Wilson releasing the butterflies as a memorial and a symbol of hope.

COSHOCTON – The Suicide Prevention Coalition gathered for a memorial walk and butterfly release at noon on Saturday, June 1 at the Himebaugh Lot to bring awareness to mental illness and encourage those who may be at risk of suicide to seek immediate help.

“The coalition is trying to make a strong effort to get out and make awareness to the community,” said Tom Wilson from Tompkins Child and Adolescent Services. “We’re working hard to make awareness to losses we’ve had this year and last year. I think it’s increasing in the community.”

In 2012, there were a total of nine suicides in Coshocton County. This year alone, there have been five suicides in the county. Wilson said he believes the suicide rate is increasing due to the poor economy, financial issues, people being out of work, and an increase in depression. Wilson also hopes to remove the stigma in society about those who suffer from a mental illness.

“We are losing people at a rate we do not need to lose,” said Wilson. “Even one is too many.”

Beth Cormack, co-facilitator of the Suicide Prevention Coalition, opened the ceremony by explaining how the coalition began. Ten years ago, there were nine members of the community lost to suicide. That year, the coalition was formed to try to raise awareness of mental illness and suicide prevention. This year, the members of the coalition were even able to go into Junior High Schools and talk about the risk factors of suicide, which would have been taboo 10 years ago.

“We need to make sure we are seeing this as an illness so we can encourage them and treat them,” said Cormack. “We want to honor those people who have been lost to suicide. It impacts the friends, the family, and the community at large. We want to make a difference so that people don’t have to go through what we’ve been through.”

Lloyd Tenney from the Church of Christ opened with a prayer and then those gathered were invited to speak the name of a loved one they were remembering that afternoon who had been lost to suicide.

After the memorial walk around the Himebaugh Lot, Herb Tidrick from the Veteran’s Service Office spoke about suicide and veterans.

A large number of military veterans in the community have a high suicide rate. Last year was actually a record number for veteran suicides and continues to be a challenge. It is also unbelievably the second-leading cause of death for military personnel.

“The damage you don’t see is in the mind and that’s what they deal with the most,” said Tedrick.

The Veterans Administration through the VA Healthcare has strengthened their efforts to raise suicide awareness among veterans. The suicide hotline has veterans who have seen combat talk to veterans when they call in for help.

Half of the battle is recognizing the signs of depression which can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. Some of these risk factors are: talking about wanting to die, looking actively for ways to end your life, feeling hopeless or trapped, using drugs and alcohol in excess, loss of sleep or sleeping more, just to name a few. The coalition stressed the fact that if you know someone who is at risk of suicide, talk to them about it and be direct in your conversation.

At the end of the memorial services, Wilson and Roxana Conkle released butterflies as a sign of hope and remembrance.

“The butterflies are a sign of hope for the future, a symbol of healing, and as a way of raising awareness,” said Leane Rohr of the Suicide Prevention Coalition.

If you need help, contact the Tompkins Child and Adolescent Services or the Coshocton Counseling Center on Main Street at 622-3404. Contact the Columbus Suicide Hotline at (614) 221-5445 or visit suicide.org/hotlines/ohio-suicide-hotlines.

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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