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September is National Suicide Prevention Month. View ideas for action.

Ohio's Suicide Prevention Plan

Ohio loses between 1,500 and 1,700 citizens to suicide each year, more than twice the rate of homicide deaths. Suicide is a major public health issue across the nation and the number of Ohioans who are dying is increasing. Between 2006 and 2015, 14,321 Ohioans died by suicide. The Ohio General Assembly allocated funding in both the 2016-17 and 2018-19 biennial budgets to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) to develop comprehensive approaches that decrease Ohio’s suicide rates.

The department is leading an initiative that strengthens and expands upon existing efforts among national, state and local partners to decrease the number of preventable deaths. Suicidal behavior, whether triggered by mental illness or a stressful life event, requires a variety of interventions:

  • Prevention strategies educate the public on the signs exhibited by a person who may be considering suicide and suggest what others can do about it.
  • Treatment access for a person who has been identified to be struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide is a critical piece of the puzzle.
  • Postvention activities address the needs of those who attempted suicide and help loved ones cope with the loss of those who do take their own lives.

Summary: Ohio's Suicide Prevention Achievements for SFY 2016-17

Workforce development
In collaboration with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), OhioMHAS sponsored regional trainings for behavioral health and primary care teams. SPRC has identified Assessment and Management of Suicide Risk (AMSR) as a best practice for clinicians who may be working with individuals at risk of suicide. OhioMHAS will support AMSR training to increase the number of qualified clinicians in Ohio.

In collaboration with the County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, OhioMHAS is piloting Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Suicidality  training with clinical staff and supervisors. This best-practice intervention assists clinical staff in addressing patient risk.

Mental Health First Aid has been supported by numerous boards, providers and community partners. It involves educating natural helpers, or adults who interact with youth as part of their regular day, to recognize warning signs for suicide and respond appropriately. "Train the Trainer" sessions will be offered to the Ohio National Guard and law enforcement professionals.

Additionally, OhioMHAS will support education and training opportunities in evidence-based practices to assist with increased workforce capacity.  Examples include the Annual Ohio Prevention and Education Conference and co-sponsorship of The Ohio State University’s Annual Suicide Prevention Conference.

See the Keynote Presentations from the 2017 OSU Conference here.


OhioMHAS is developing a youth-led and youth-focused campaign to promote protective factors in young people 12-20 years old. In addition, a separate campaign will promote awareness of behavioral health issues faced by military personnel and their families and encourage them to seek help when needed.

Ohio MHAS is committed to enhancing Postvention efforts to support the people who have had a loved one complete a suicide and may be at risk due to their own emotional response to the tragedy. The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, a key partner of OhioMHAS, has sponsored a number of training programs and will be developing plans to expand access to LOSS (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors) Teams and other postvention support. These volunteer LOSS Teams ensure that those impacted by suicide have the immediate support needed to cope with their trauma and receive a message of hope.

Through a partnership with The Research Institute of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Reporting and Social Media Guidelines were developed for journalists to utilize when reporting on suicide deaths. Six Ohio college campuses offered a venue to train both journalism students and working journalists on best practices when reporting a suicide death to be respectful and reduce the risk of community contagion.

OhioMHAS distributed a series of surveys to community partners to gather comprehensive information to inform our work. The surveys were sent to the county Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services boards, community behavioral health providers, behavioral health crisis hotlines, and Suicide Prevention Coalitions. The response rates achieved were high, from 48 to 100 percent. An executive summary of the Gap Analysis highlights the results and offers information about resources, programs and gaps identified by these entities.


OhioMHAS also sponsored an analysis of current lithium and anti-depressant prescribing patterns as related to preventing suicide deaths. The results of this study will be used to develop lithium prescribing guidelines. Although the study is limited to a sub-set of Ohio’s population, it will assist with updating prescribing guidelines that are applicable widely.
Crisis hotline and text support

Support for crisis hotlines and addition of a statewide text option can improve access to 24/7 emotional support. In partnership with the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, OhioMHAS is marketing Crisis Text Line access using the keyword "4HOPE" to 741 741.

In addition, supervisors and staff working for crisis/behavioral health hotlines will have access to an on-line training curriculum and manual upon completion. The standardized curriculum is being finalized and will provide comprehensive training and skill development to increase positive outcomes for individuals in crisis.