The Morrow County Suicide Prevention Coalition met Feb. 12 at the Ag Credit meeting room to decide on a mission statement, share data on mental health and suicide, and discuss a community survey.

Participants were from HelpLine, Delaware Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services, OSU Extension, Prevention Awareness Support Services (PASS,) Morrow DD, Morrow County Health District, law enforcement, and the Sentinel. Others were present on Zoom.

Sarah Malich, associate director of PASS, led the discussion on how relationship building in the community can enable the group’s mission statement, which reads, “To reduce mental health stigma and prevent suicide risk and suicide death in Morrow County using awareness, collaboration, and education.”

Information shared with the coalition included the community health assessment from the Morrow County Health District, considerations for community readiness, Ohio County Profiles – Morrow County Demographic Information, and suicide demographics and trends in Ohio from the Ohio Department of Health from 2017-2021.

The Ohio Department of Health Statistics state Morrow County had 22 suicides between 2017-2021 for a rate of 13.0. Neighboring counties for the same period were Crawford County with 39 suicides for a 17.1 rate, Knox County with 49 suicides for a rate of 15.7, Marion County with 61 suicides for a rate of 18.9 and Delaware County 115 suicides for a rate of 11.0. Rates are calculated per 100,000 population and are age-adjusted for the U.S. standard population.

Several suggested possible partnerships with the coalition include local libraries and schools to inform and educate, Morrow County Health Department, Morrow County Health Center, United Way, PTO groups, career/job fairs, Morrow County community services meetings, Farm Bureau, Farmer Share Breakfast, OSU Extension, and the NAMI Walk.

Bryce Coder of HelpLine spoke of the success of the suicide coalition in Delaware County in bringing together people from different backgrounds in the community. He said one relationship was with Black Wing Shooting Center in Delaware County. They had seen tragic situations and wanted to be a part of preventing suicide.

It was suggested a good question to begin the survey might be if one believes the discussion of suicide is not needed in Morrow County. Another question would be if the one taking the survey says they are not informed or aware. Other questions might be if the person, or anyone they know, has had thoughts or attempts of suicide. The group decided to have several people design a tentative survey, which will be shared at the next meeting.

It was also suggested that an online survey could be offered with a QR Code, and a review of county school programs about mental health could be helpful in seeing if or how the county is affected.

Rhianna Mattix, associate director of Delaware Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, said it is important to be inclusive in approaching county residents in a survey. She added that while some people might be aware and informed about mental health, others may not have had the opportunity to consider mental health issues.

“We want to hear community ideas, and we are seeking to build a collaborative effort,” said Mattix, who stressed the importance of bringing in people from business, education, churches, families, and individuals as well as agencies who work in the mental health field.

The next meeting of the Morrow County Suicide Prevention Coalition will be March 11 at 10:30 a.m.

Alberta Stojkovic is a correspondent for The Morrow County Sentinel.