As Ohioans prepare to celebrate the holidays, there are many families who will be without their loved ones this season.
Each year, we lose between 1,200 and 1,500 of our citizens to suicide and it is a tragedy that too often affects our military members and veterans.
The Ohio National Guard has experienced six suicide deaths among its members in just the past 12 months.
As the men and women who take pride in being protectors, service members tend to hide feelings and are slow to admit there’s a problem because it might show weakness. We must break down this and other barriers to getting help.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness — it is a sign of strength.
Some of the warning signs that someone may be considering suicide include:
• Increased or excessive alcohol or drug use
• Feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep
• Talk of feeling hopeless
• Losing interest in doing things they love
• Withdrawing from friends, family and society
If you know a military member or veteran who may be at risk for suicide, please encourage them to get help. No one should go through a crisis like this alone.
Help is available by texting “4HOPE” to 741741 or calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and pressing 1.
Additional resources are available through OhioCares at 1-800-761-0868 or ohiovets.gov/helpOhioHeroes.
Under Gov. John Kasich’s leadership, Ohio has invested $2 million in a collaborative approach to reduce suicides in the state: workforce development; expanded resources for survivors of loss; crisis hotlines and text support; research; awareness and stigma reduction. Ohio is one of only five states to designate funding specifically for suicide prevention.
We all must do our part to prevent the loss of another life.
Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman
Ohio Adjutant General’s Department
Director Tracy J. Plouck
Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services
Director Chip Tansill
Ohio Department of Veterans Services