The Suicide Prevention Coalition of Logan and Champaign Counties is raising awareness about a free resource for individuals struggling with suicide or substance use.
The coalition is advising residents of the Crisis Text Line, which provides a new way for people to seek help.
“Part of the mission of the coalition is to increase access to care for individuals struggling emotionally or with suicide,” Coalition chairperson Karey A. Thompson said. “One of the ways we do that is through marketing and promotion of the available crisis hotline, and now text line, to help let people know there is immediate help available, 24/7. We want people to know that there is always help, all they have to do is call, or now – text.”
Thompson stated anyone should feel free to use the text line.
Thompson said the local crisis hotline is a service provided by Consolidated Care Inc. and Miami County Recovery and Wellness, while the text line is a national company that the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS) and Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA) have partnered with to have a designated keyword “4HOPE” for texters in Ohio.
The text line started nationwide in August 2013 in Chicago and in September 2013 in El Paso. The Ohio keyword started last September and Thompson said the OMHAS and OACBHA have worked since then to help promote the use of the text line across the state.
Thompson said an individual may text the keyword “4HOPE” to 741 741 and expect a reply from a trained Crisis Counselor within five minutes. The message is free, confidential, anonymous and secure. Thompson added this designated keyword allows for tracking of data trends specific to texters in the state of Ohio.
On Wednesday, Thompson went to 10 high schools in Champaign and Logan Counties to deliver wristbands, stickers and posters used to help promote the text line to students.
“It is imperative that youth know they have access to crisis services 24/7,” Thompson said. “We know that the teen years can be especially stressful as they are full of transitions and emotional changes. Teens are also at an increased risk for suicide – suicide has moved from the third to the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15 through 24 in the United States. Having access to someone who will listen can be a great benefit and now with the Crisis Text Line, there is a crisis service that is available via a platform that teens are most comfortable with.”
Mechanicsburg Schools Guidance Counselor Dr. Carol Carpenter said the school became aware of the coalition’s effort through communication with Mechanicsburg High School student Emma Lockwood who has worked with the coalition for multiple years.
“Any community resources we can offer kids are obviously a benefit,” Carpenter said. “The students that I’ve talked to about this are especially excited because it’s an anonymous text line so I think that will open some doors to kids who may not otherwise reach out.”
Mechanicsburg High School Principal Paul Hershberger Jr. said giving an avenue for students to talk through difficulties has been very important.
“Mechanicsburg is a very tight knit community and everybody knows everybody and everybody knows everything about everybody so sometimes that is a downside when you’re talking about something very personal, something very serious like suicide,” Hershberger said. “Giving kids an out where they know it’s anonymous and they’re not going to know who they are or (who their relatives are) that they can just talk and share their feelings is a phenomenal opportunity for our kids.”
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.