People all across Crawford County can take steps and make strides to help promote suicide prevention durning the upcoming suicide prevention walk taking place in Galion, Bucyrus, and Crestline on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 18.
Presented by the Crawford County Suicide Prevention Coalition, the walk will raise funds which go toward several programs offered throughout the county for all age groups to help prevent suicide and offer places to call to get help.
This is the 18th year for the walk and people can check in the day of the walk between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Registration costs $25 for the walk and T-shirt and $15 for the walk only. But Cindy Wallis, director of Community Counseling Services of Crawford County, said she doesn’t want the cost to deter people from walking.
“If you can’t afford to pay, that’s fine. Just come on down, walk and take part, and show you back such a worthy cause,” she said. “The walks are all less than a mile each and there will be a minister at each location giving a brief prayer and just a few words at each location thanking people for coming and inviting people to join the suicide coalition, if they like.”
Meeting places are at Avita Hospital in Bucyrus; First United Church of Christ in Galion; and behind the police and fire station in Crestline. The walk starts promptly at 9:30 a.m. at each location.
It was noted that the registration deadline is Sept. 3, but people can show up the day of the walk and participate to show their support.
To register, people can go online to https://donorbox.org/crawford-suicide-prevention-walk or send in checks to 151 Campbell St., Marion, OH, 43302. Checks should be made out to MCPP or Marion Crawford County Prevention Programs.
“We want to say thank you to NAMI, the Crawford/Marion ADAMH Board, and the Community Foundation for Crawford County for their support throughout the year so we can provide prevention programming and awareness for the community,” Wallis said.
A family’s story
Alison and Jerry Allonas know firsthand how suicide effects families afterward when they lost their son and step-son, J.D. (Joseph David) Nauman, to suicide eight years ago when he was just 34 years old.
“J.D. loved sports, he could literally tell you all the (stats),” Allison said. “He should have been a (sports) announcer. He knew everything about sports and he was smart. He had five children and loved all of them and loved doing things with them, and he loved to cook. Whether it was inside cooking or outside grilling, he loved to cook and he was good.”
“He had a lot of friends,” Jerry added. “And he had a good sense of humor.”
J.D. graduated from Colonel Crawford in the late 1990s, played basketball, and after graduation he went right to work.
Alison said J.D. died of suicide from a gunshot wound under his chin. Both Alison and Jerry noted J.D. and his girlfriend were fighting and then J.D. left for a little bit and then came back to her parents house in Galion and they just kept arguing.
“We found out he hadn’t taken his medicine,” Jerry said. “He was bipolar and we think probably a combination of the argument, maybe drinking — because he self-medicated a lot. He was probably just high and he just decided to do it. And when he shot himself he didn’t die right away.”
“He was conscious on the way to the hospital,” Alison explained. “The police officer told me he was conscious from the house to the hospital and the police officer told me he said, ‘I shot myself, why am I not dead?’”
To help deal with their grief, and to help other families going through the same situation, Jerry said they have taken a more active part in the Crawford County Suicide Prevention Coaltion and the ADAMH Board.
“We are really trying to be an outreach to these people,” Jerry said. “What we’ve done since then is we’ve spent a lot of time with the grandkids. Alison has done a great job getting them all together and doing things with them as a group so everybody knows everybody. And (the mothers) are all cooperative doing that. We had a good time with all the kids.
“So we spent a lot of time with them, they’ve grown and we talk about him — they know, and they like to talk about him. They’ve all done well. We’ve made a point of keeping the families together and getting them to church, so that’s kind of where we are with that.”
Why we walk
“The goal of the walk is to bring awareness to the community about suicide prevention and to let the community know there is help out there and a lot of the money raised from this event is used for prevention programs and for resourses for the community,” Wallis said.
She explained some of these programs include S.O.S.- Signs Of Suicide in the schools; QPR-Question, Pursuade, Refer; and another one called Working Minds, which can be utilized by local businesinesses.
“If a local business or factory or anybody, is concerned about their employees this is a free program and a team can come out and assist them in learning what the signs are and assist them with what the resources are,” Wallis said.
Wallis noted they are having the walk in three different communities this year because they want to recognize that families lose people to suicide not only in Bucyrus, but also in Galion and Crestline.
Kate Siefert, health commissioner for Crawford County Public Health, said suicide is considered one of the public health initiatives looking at them as preventable deaths and encouraging people to come together as a commiunity. She added that one of the biggest challenges is reducing the stigma associated with mental health.
“One of the things I do here as my job is a lot of surveillance of databases and one of those is called Epicenter and that is aggregate data of all the visits at urgent care centers or emergency rooms in Ohio,” Siefert explained. “So no matter where they go in Ohio, if they are a Crawford County resident, it shows up in the database that I can see.”
Siefert said the database can be utilized to track a variety of subjects.
“One of the things I can sort for is suicide ideation,” Siefert said. “So then I can look at the data and I will know their age and area they are from and I can read the triage notes. Those are the notes entered in by the emergency room nurses and talks abouts not just about the care they are providing,but also more or less the story why this person is presenting at that time. And that varies. And I think that’s one of the things people need to realize is letting go of the stigma of mental health. This can certainly affect anyone and everyone.
“I’m seeing stories of grief, struggling with the loss of a loved one or the anniversary of the loss of a loved one, financial hardship, and even struggling in relationships with family members and occasionally there will be youths talking about bullying.
Siefert said suicide is not just limited to youth.
“When we look at this too, people assume suicide ideation and suicide completion those are issues for the youth,” she said. “But that is not true. When we look at our age groups and when we look at their age, here in Crawford County for the first seven months — January through July 2021 — there were 134 suicide ideations that were reported to an emergency or urgent care center. And you have to understand those ideations are highly underreported. These are situations where this is a moment where someone took them to an ER or urgent care center. A lot of people are struggling with suicide ideation no one knows about it. So you have to keep in mind those are 134 cases that are known and when we look at that, the age group it is from 9-year old up to 67 years old with the average age of 30.”
“Especially with this walk, it is to raise awareness and help those who are struggling,” she said. “Ultimately, our goal here in Crawford County is to have a year with zero suicide completions — but we’ve never had that.”
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