Letter: Officials say suicide 'is preventable'; urges firearm safe storage
For the past several years, the number of Portage County residents dying by suicide has increased.
Suicide is complicated and tragic. There is no single cause of suicide: It is the outcome of multiple contributing factors and events. However, suicide is also preventable. Environmental factors such as access to lethal means increase the risk for suicide.
Safe storage of firearms to prevent suicide is an important part of suicide prevention. Lock your firearm and limit access to the keys and combination. Never allow children and teens to have unsupervised access.
If someone is in crisis, remove the gun and ammunition for now. Without a gun, less than 5% of suicide attempts result in death. But with a gun, 85% of attempts are fatal. In a moment of crisis, access to a gun is the difference between life and death.
Free gun locks are available at the Portage County Health District and the Aurora, Brimfield, Garrettsville, Hiram, Kent, Ravenna, and Streetsboro Police Departments.
A person may be at risk for suicide after experiencing a death of a loved one, an end of a relationship, or a job loss. Some warning signs individuals display include talking about wanting to die, feeling hopeless, behaving recklessly, increasing alcohol or drug use, and withdrawing and isolating themselves.
Reach out to friends and family. Let them know you care and support them. If you know they have guns in their home, share this message regarding the importance of safe storage. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, please, call the Portage County Helpline at 330-678-4357.
Paul Dages, Chair
Suicide Prevention Coalition of Portage County
John Garrity, Executive Director
Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County