By VINCE M. BRANCACCIO
CEO, Help Network of Northeast Ohio
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In Ohio, five people die by suicide every day. It means 1,800 families suffer the pain of losing a loved one every year.
In response, Help Network of Northeast Ohio expanded existing services in 2022 and launched new ones. The social services agency, once known as Help Hotline Crisis Center, has expanded by almost 50% since 2014 as the needs for its services continues to grow.
Suicide is a serious nationwide issue. One way experts have begun to address this problem is with the new “988” National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number.
Help Network was part of the national launch in July of the new number and is responsible for answering 988 calls from Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, and Ashtabula counties. The organization continues to answer the local Suicide Hotline numbers along with 211, its information and referral line.
Other initiatives spurred significant growth last year. Help Network launched the pilot program of the Family Success Network in 2021, which expanded significantly in 2022. This new program is designed to provide opportunities and options to families in Columbiana, Mahoning, and Trumbull counties and helps them connect with available services.
Under the program, every family has access to a personal family coach who offers support handling parenting struggles. Families can also receive help with financial literacy, including personal financial management and budgeting. Education resources are also available to parents.
Community support for Help Network has never been better, reflected by our annual golf outing held in May – the largest to date in both participation and sponsorships.
Help Network is funded in part by the Mental Health and Recovery boards in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties as well as Direction Home of Eastern Ohio, Mahoning County Health Department and the United Ways of the three counties.
Additional funding is provided by key grants from the Youngstown Foundation, Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation, Mercy Health Foundation, Wean Foundation, Community Foundation, Pegs Foundation, Wean Foundation, Episcopal Community Services and the Ross Griffin Memorial Foundation.
Help Network employees work 365 days a year to provide life-saving services. People experiencing mental health-related issues and/or in need of food, shelter or assistance with many other problems receive referrals to counseling and direct support services. As it has for over 50 years, Help Network provides 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis intervention.