Curbing teen suicide: Study finds 20 percent of Medina County teens considered suicide

MEDINA, Ohio - Suicide has become the second leading cause of death in young people age 15 to 24, and on Friday in Medina County, community leaders gathered to try to make a difference.

"Our strategy is simply youth engagement," said Seth Kujat, executive director of the United Way of Medina County. "Show the youth that they're a part of this community and let them drive the ship for a little bit."

The United Way commissioned a study in 2012 that found that 20 percent of the high school youth in Medina County had seriously considered suicide. That's higher than both state and national numbers. The study also found that 25 percent believed they were depressed and 41 percent said their biggest stressor was academic success.

Kujat said the issue is not mental health, but it is coping skills. The community leaders will go into schools and tell their own personal stories to young people, letting them know there are better ways to cope with problems.

"Our strategies are to get kids engaged and to get them coping with that stress better," Kujat said.

Meanwhile, school employees throughout Ohio are getting free training in how to recognize a child who is thinking of harming himself.  The training resulted from the Jason Flatt Act in Honor of Joseph Anielski.

Anielski, the 18-year-old son of Ohio Rep. Marlene Anielski of Independence, took his own life three years ago.

"We didn't know anything was wrong," Anielski said. "Perhaps there were signs but we did not see them.  We did not know to recognize them."

Anielski said she hopes all school employees will take the training.

"I think those coaches, I think those bus drivers, I think those janitors, those kitchen ladies, everybody needs to be aware of what the signs are," she said.

The training is available online, on DVD, or in person in the schools.  It's also available for parents and students.  Go to www.jasonfoundation.com for more information.

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