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Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: NAMI encouraging people to bring their voices together to advocate for better mental health care

Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. NAMI members also say suicide can be preventable.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, reports the number of suicide attempts have increased during the pandemic.

So for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, members with the organization are encouraging people to bring their voices together to advocate for better mental health care.

'It's okay to talk about suicide,' that's the message from NAMI, which is a proud partner of the 'Lucas County Suicide Prevention Coalition.' 

Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. NAMI members also say suicide can be preventable.

Throughout the month of September, NAMI is on a mission to shift the public perception about suicide. Experts say suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal. What should be normal is talking about the serious topic. 

That's where the 'Lucas County Suicide Prevention Coalition' comes into play. It's focused on the front-end of prevention. 

Board member Marriah Kornowa said they're going to really hone in on providing monthly meetings for the community, also offering QPR training: question, persuade and refer. The three simple steps she said anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. 

"We wanna get folks comfortable in asking the question, knowing how to persuade and create hope and also where to refer folks. So then, the main takeaway is that suicide is preventable," explained Kornowa. "If all of us could learn how to have confidence and just reach out to one another and ask, 'Are you okay?'"

The executive director of NAMI of Greater Toledo, Robin Isenberg, said this month allows them to really build on making sure everyone knows it's okay to not be okay and that no one walks the mental health journey alone.

She explained they want to start conversations surrounding suicide and normalize talking about it because after all, just one conversation can change a life. Isenberg wants people to know that whether you are struggling yourself or you're trying to help a loved one, there are resources and navigation tools out there available to help, as well as support. 

"Mental health is a journey and no one should travel it alone," said Isenberg. "So, if you have a loved one who you're supporting, you also need to understand, be educated and know how to support that loved one."

While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, NAMI said this month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength to address the difficult topic.

The national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7. The number is 988.

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