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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Suicide, Overdose Numbers On The Rise Again


Eileen McClory

The outside of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Portage County in Kent.

The past few years have been bad in terms of #suicide and overdose deaths in Portage County, but 2020 has been among the worst. 

Wayne Enders of the Portage County Coroner’s Office said the office has handled about 106 cases so far this year. About half of those cases – 49 – were people who died from #suicide or drug toxicity. 

As of Wednesday, 19 people had died by #suicide and 30 people had died from an overdose, Enders said.   

On average, he said, between 30 and 40 people died from an overdose between 2016 and 2019. In 2019, there were 33 overdose deaths.  

In 2018, there were 31 #suicide deaths, about double the average number of suicides in Portage County in a year. In 2019, there were 24 #suicide deaths.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle


#Health experts have been warning since March that the #COVID-19 #pandemic would impact #mentalhealth. As a response, the Portage County #MentalHealth and Recovery Board has increased its advertising online, trying to reach out to people who may need more encouragement to get help.  

“We want people realize that it’s OK to ask for help, and that treatment is available and it does indeed work,” said Karyn Kravetz, who does community outreach for the Portage County #MentalHealth and Recovery Board.

#SeptemberisSuicidePreventionAwarenessMonth, which aims connect people who may be contemplating #suicide with professional help.

But #mentalhealth in Portage County was impacted before the #pandemic. Enders said there were eight deaths by #suicide in January and February.

John Garrity, director of the Portage County #MentalHealth and Recovery Board, cautioned that the worst may be yet to come.  

“A lot of times it takes longer for the impact to really hit people,” Garrity said.  

Kravetz said the surge in alcohol sales during the #pandemic is also a concern. #Isolation, #domesticviolence and arguments could be heightened by alcohol consumption. At least nine people have died of alcohol-related causes so far in 2020, according to the Portage County Coroner’s Office.  

Ashley Holt, clinical director for Hope Village Recovery, an outpatient recovery center in Portage County, said the center has seen a steady increase in admissions since the stay at home order was lifted.

“People are isolated and they are unable give or receive support in the way that has worked in the past. #Isolation impacts #mentalhealth and wellbeing across the board,” Holt said. “Being disconnected is especially hard when an essential aspect of recovery is to reach out, to be in your recovery community, and to surround yourself with people who are walking the path with you.”

A report using 2018 data of all the #suicideattempts and deaths, alcohol abuse and deaths and overdose attempts and deaths from local hospitals and the Portage County Coroner’s office for the year found that older, white #men who were divorced were particularly at risk for dying of overdose or #suicide. 

The report found that #men were more likely than #women to have an overdose. #Women were more likely to visit the hospital for a #suicide attempt, but #men were more likely to die from a #suicide attempt. #Men were also more likely to go to the hospital because of an issue with alcohol. 

Paul Dages, emergency services manager for Townhall II, said the crisis hotline he helps to run has seen an increase in the number of severe crisis calls. 

“We’ve been busy,” he said. 

Mary McCracken of Children’s Advantage said the #pandemic could be compounding existing #mentalhealth concerns among #children, but also among the #teachers and #parents they interact with daily.  

“I just think the stress is so much more,” she said.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of #suicide, contact the #nationalsuicidepreventionhotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also call the local crisis hotline, 330-296-3555 or 330-678-4357 or text 4hope to 741741.  

Contact reporter Eileen McClory at 330-422-3908, emcclory@recordpub.com or @Eileen_McClory. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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