Area coalition working to prevent suicide

They are serious about their mission, but members of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Warren and Clinton Counties still have their light-hearted moments. From foreground to background are Pat Clark, Casey Hippenhammer and Barbara Adams Marin at the Wednesday, June 24 meeting.

Suicide Prevention Coalition of Warren and Clinton Counties Chairperson Patti Ahting holds up a bag that contains items such as a stress ball, a hot/cold pack, a hand fan, Edu-Sliders and other items with positive coping information.

WILMINGTON — You may have seen the billboard or picked up the educational items at the Banana Split Festival. Either way, there’s a consistent point: “No judgment. Just help.”

The Suicide Prevention Coalition (SPC) of Warren and Clinton Counties is the driving force behind the message.

Formed in 2006, the area SPC includes a variety of community members such as suicide survivors and individuals from social service agencies, governmental offices, law enforcement and interested citizens, according to the mission statement on its web page.

Presently, 19 people participate in the SPC.

Public awareness cards about disposing of unused medication, plus cards about firearm safety, make up a current project that seeks to limit access to pills or firearms because they are means to end one’s life, said Patti Ahting, SPC chairperson and associate director of the Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren and Clinton Counties.

The cards regarding unused pills identify the sites of permanent prescription drug drop boxes that are located in the two counties. The firearm safety cards, meanwhile, have several tips on storing firearms in secured spots as well as additional safety precautions if a family member is in an emotional crisis.

A year ago, SPC ordered 30,000 of the unused pill disposal cards and so far it has distributed about 29,000 of them at various sites such as pharmacies, doctors offices, and booths at fairs and functions, Ahting said.

The Maineville police chief in Warren County reported that after the cards were included in tax bill mailings to village residents, the amount of drugs collected in the Maineville Police Department’s pill drop box doubled, Ahting said during Wednesday’s coalition meeting in Wilmington.

A QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training session, provided free, is scheduled in the fall at the Wilmington Savings Bank-Clinton County Senior Center. Presented by a certified instructor, QPR is a suicide prevention program that includes warning signs of suicide, tips for asking the suicide question, and methods for persuading suicidal individuals to get help.

Over the years, the coalition has donated more than 40 books to public and college libraries in the two-county area. The book topics were either on coping with suicide survivor bereavement or about suicide facts.

Currently, SPC members are discussing a possible visit by the author of “My Heart and other Black Holes.”

The SPC mission statement says members work to prevent suicide “by mobilizing the community” through education and awareness. Membership is open and others are encouraged to join.

The 24-hour local crisis hotline number is 1-877-695-NEED (6333).

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.