Suicide now the 2nd leading cause of death for Ohio kids, young adults

Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 5:41 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A big part of the Ohio School Safety Summit focuses on kids and mental health, and studies show our kids are struggling.

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among kids and young adults in Ohio.

“They’re getting younger,” Medina County Coroner Dr. Lisa Deranek told 19 News. “Thirteen has been my youngest so far. Thirteen and straight A’s, honor student, thirteen! It’s just devastating.”

Within a two-week span, Dr. Deranek said she had three suicides, all under the age of 21 years old: “That was a hard week for me because being a mom, I cry.”

In Medina County, a possible solution is ‘The L.O.S.S. Team’ - Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors.

Members like Gail Houk go immediately to the scene where someone has committed suicide and provide support to families, as well as provide resources to grief counseling and long term treatment.

“Statistics show someone who has a family member that has died by suicide is at a higher risk to complete suicide themselves,” Houk said.

She said one of the lessons her team is learning is how important prevention is in middle and elementary schools.

Devan Althen, a prevention specialist in Medina County, works closely with schools. ‘Hope Squads’ are one of many programs she’s helped implement.

‘Hope Squads’ are specific student teams and its members are trained to listen to their peers and to know what to do in a crisis.

“Being able to empower [students] to not only have the conversation but know how to manage them wisely, is really what we’re trying to do,” Althen said.