(STARK COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT) Stark County, Ohio – An Epi-Aid investigation was conducted during the last 12 months due to the rapid increase in Stark County youth suicides between August 2017 and March 2018. The suicide rate among youth aged 10-19 years rose to more than 7 times the U.S. national rate and 11 times the Stark County rate for the previous years. This investigation was conducted in partnerships with the Stark County Health Department, the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, along with input from numerous community partners. The purpose of the Epi-Aid was to examine factors contributing to the increased suicidal behavioral among Stark County youth.
Four main objectives were completed through the Epi-Aid:
1) Determined the students in need of prevention services at all affected and at-risk middle and high schools through a comprehensive school based risk screen.
2) Identified factors for youth suicide that may contribute to ongoing suicidal behavioral to prevent further suicide attempts and suicides.
3) Determined the activities, social supports, and other factors among youth that are most protective against suicide risk to help guide prevention activities.
4) Inventoried and catalogued existing suicide prevention initiatives to make recommendations on evidence-based suicide prevention programs.
A variety of data sources and activities were used to address the objectives. Details regarding the key findings by data source are provided in the final report.
Based on the key findings across data sources, the following recommendations are presented in the report to share with the community. These recommendations highlight opportunities to address suicide risk and protective factors among youth and support prevention activities in Stark County.
Advance Integrated Approach to Suicide Prevention at the Community Level
Ø Develop a youth specific strategic plan for Stark County suicide prevention.
Ø Collect youth-specific data for qualitative and quantitative evaluation of suicide prevention efforts.
Strengthen Access and Delivery of Suicide Care
Ø Increase access to health and psychological care for youth, particularly evidence-based
mental health services.
Create Protective Environments
Ø Reduce access to lethal means among youth at risk for suicide.
Ø Implement evidence-based, community-based strategies to reduce youth substance use.
Ø Engage community members, parents, and families in youth’s life through participation in school and community activities.
Ø Promote youth connectedness at individual, interpersonal, organizational, and
Teach Coping and Problem-Solving Skills
Ø Integrate upstream suicide prevention strategies into school curriculum through social emotional learning programs.
Ø Encourage development of resilience among youth through evidence-based
programming in schools and community.
Identify and Support People at Risk
Ø Train community members to identify people who may be at risk of suicide and to respond effectively through Gatekeeper Training.
Ø Prevent and reduce the negative effects of childhood adversity.
Lessen Harms and Prevent Future Risk
Ø Refer persons substantially affected by suicide for further counseling or other services as needed.
Ø Implement postvention activities throughout a community, not just at an affected school or institution.
Ø Develop suicide response plans before a death occurs and follow suicide response guidelines in the wake of an event.
Ø Collaborate with local and regional news sources to promote safe suicide reporting guidelines.
Ø Use safe suicide reporting guidelines to direct social media messaging.
Administer Ongoing Youth Health and Behavior Surveys
Ø Regularly assess the health and wellbeing of students through ongoing youth health and behavior surveys.
Target both Female and Male Students
Ø Plan sex-specific interventions to more effectively prevent suicidal behaviors.
A list of Stark County specific interventions and evidence-based practices that were developed as a result of the recommendations above, will be included in the Stark County Child Fatality Review and Fetal Infant Mortality Review 2018 Recommendations Report due to be released in May, 2019. The full Epi-Aid report, the NOYHS County Level Data Report (released in October, 2018), and interim recommendations for youth suicide prevention (released in July, 2018) are available at www.starkcountyohio.gov/public-health.
Information specific to youth suicide prevention is available at: https://starkmhar.org/help/youth-suicide-prevention/
Guidelines for journalists reporting on suicide and addiction topics are available at: https://starkmhar.org/advocacy/words-matter/
Resources are available for those in crisis:
Crisis Hotline: 330-452-6000
Domestic Violence help line: 330-453-SAFE (7233)
Homeless Hotline: 330-452-4363
Crisis Text Line, Text 4hope to 741 741
Trevor Project Lifeline for LGBTQ youth: 866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
Military & Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1
Military & Veterans Crisis Text Line: 838255
Opiate Hotline: 330-454-HELP (4357)