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Akron-area billboard campaign focuses on suicide prevention

06-11-2019 (Akron, Ohio )

Billboards now in place around Akron are part of a campaign to remind people that the risk of a loved one, including youth, dying by suicide increases if the household has easy access to medications, alcohol and firearms.

The “Store It Safe” public awareness campaign is a partnership between Akron Children’s Hospital and the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, with grant funding through the Ohio Department of Health’s Child Injury Prevention Program.

Seven billboards, depicting a padlock around the images of a prescription bottle, pills, a bottle of alcohol and a gun with the headline, “Prevent Suicide Among Ohio Adolescents,” will be in place for four weeks in June.

“Eliminating access to lethal means, such as firearms and medications, can be the factor that determines if a person at risk for suicide lives or dies,” says Sherry Blair, injury prevention coalition coordinator for Akron Children’s. “We know that nationally one out of three homes with kids has a gun and, of those, 43 percent have at least one unlocked firearm.”

The suicide rate in Ohio increased 24 percent from 2008 to 2017, according to the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health. Firearms accounted for more than half (50.9 percent) of all suicide fatalities for the study period.

Locking up firearms and medications will also prevent unintentional harm.

“Young children are curious and will touch anything, while teens are still learning to control their impulses,” said Blair. “Youth suicide deaths are on the rise and are a leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24.The presence of a firearm at home increases the risk of suicide.”

To learn more about the Store It Safe campaign, including signs of suicide and depression in adolescents, go to www.akronchildrens.org/storeitsafe.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or text the word “HOME” to 741741, the U.S. Crisis Text Line.

Akron Children’s offers a Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a triage and referral service that links families to behavioral health services in Summit County and beyond. It is staffed by licensed social workers and professional clinical counselors who are trained to assess a child’s mental, emotional and behavioral healthcare needs. To contact PIRC, call 330-543-7472.