MEDINA, Ohio - Efforts are underway in Medina County to stem the tragic tide of teen suicide. The recent deaths of two Brunswick High School students underscore the importance of those efforts.
"It's Medina County's greatest need, getting our young people alive and filled with hope again," said Seth Kujat, executive director of the United Way of Medina County.
Kujat calls the problem an "epidemic."
The United Way began organizing the community to come up with solutions to the teen suicide problem after the Living Well Medina County Project found that 20 percent of Medina County high school youth have seriously considered suicide and that one in four Medina County youth consider themselves depressed.
A youth summit is set for Feb. 18 and 19 where teens will be given the opportunity to create their vision for Medina County and to say what they would like to see changed in their schools.
"Then we're going to give them financial resources, money to make their vision a reality," Kujat said.
"We're going to have focus groups and we're going to sit down with high school students and say, 'why this behavior, what's causing this," he said.
Kujat also wants to see a licensed mental health therapist in all eight school districts in Medina County, as well as mentoring programs where youth can learn ways to cope with stress.
"These kids are reaching out for help," he said, "and we have to give them the best help possible."
Log onto www.UnitedWayMedina.org for more information about the youth summit and how you can get involved.
Below are suicide warning signs provided by Alternative Paths:
-Talking or writing about death or suicide
-Withdrawing from family, friends, and activities
-Loss of interest in anything the person used to enjoy
-Statements of hopelessness or worthlessness
-Feeling strong anger or rage
-Feeling trapped, like there is no way out of a situation
-Abusing alcohol or drugs
-Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping habits
-Performing poorly at work or school
-Exhibiting a change in personality
-Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
-Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
-The person has made a previous suicide attempt
-Giving away possessions, writing a will, etc.
If you suspect someone is suicidal:
-Take the person seriously. At least 75% of people give off warning signs ahead of time, hoping someone will intervene
-Listen to the person's problems without being judgmental
-Ask if they are having suicidal thoughts if you think that they are
-Explore the possibilities of getting help
-Do not leave the person alone. Go with him or her to get help
-Remove any means of suicide, i.e. guns knives, pills, etc.
-Contact 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.