The President's Corner
“Sunday, November 11 (6:39 pm): Dispatch Message – At 1631 hours PPD and PFD Responded to . . .Wexford Ave for a 74 YO Male with self-inflicted gunshot. House appeared to be secure and there was nothing suspicious about death - coroner has come to claim the body.” When I received this message from the Parma Dispatch Center last month, my heart sunk and it has been bothering me ever since. I did not know this gentleman, but I cannot help but be saddened knowing that he was, no doubt, suffering from loneliness and depression. His death awakened the memory of my Uncle Eugene who took his own life when I was a young teenager, as well as the students at the school where I teach that have either attempted or succeeded in ending their own lives. It also reminded me of the young man who shot himself last year in Parma soon after returning from serving our country.
Suicide in our nation has become dizzyingly out of control in recent years. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide has been on the rise in every state, with over 45,000 Americans dying by suicide in 2016. This number includes 1,707 Ohio residents. Further, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. The many statistics are just staggering.
My opinion is that we focus too much on suicide statistics and not enough on prevention. We simply must do more as a community, a county, a state and a nation to get our arms around this tragedy and the people who need our help. This article includes steps we can all take to do our part to help. I believe we need to be especially vigilant as we move into the holiday season when feelings of depression are heightened.
First, let’s all take a pledge to say hello to our neighbors on our streets who live alone and may not have any visitors. Just stop by to say hello or consider taking them some cookies, a card or some other small gift. Remind him or her that you are there if they need you.
Next, if someone you know talks about or threatens suicide, take them seriously. The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County has a plethora of information about what you can do to help someone you think is in danger of suicide. They can be reached at 216-623-6888. They also have an online crisis chat at www.adamhscc.org. Further, you can communicate with them by texting “FLS” to 741741.
Finally, if you are having suicidal thoughts, please seek help immediately by calling the 24/7 suicide prevention hotline at 216-623-6888 or 9-1-1. You can also text “4HOPE” to 741741 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Suicide is a very preventable public health crisis. Please join me in making the resources in this article available for everyone we can. Together we can save lives this holiday season and beyond. Best wishes to you for a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Parma City Council President Sean Brennan