Help Network Unveils Hope in Motion Campaign to ‘Save Lives’
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – An initiative launched last year to connect individuals who are considering taking their own lives with resources to prevent that is going to get publicized on a large canvas – a 35-foot-long passenger bus that will travel throughout the Mahoning Valley.
Help Network of Northeast Ohio unveiled a Western Reserve Transit Authority bus featuring an 18.5-foot-by-8-foot Hope in Motion banner publicizing the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline number at an event Thursday morning. A crowd of about 80 individuals, including elected officials and other community leaders, turned out for the event, which was held at the Covelli Centre parking lot.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other events taking place in the world, many people are dealing with depression, anxiety and substance abuse and seeking help, Vince Brancaccio, Help Network CEO, said. Help Network responds to 988 calls in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties.
“There are more people looking for help, and we have seen an uptick in people who are attempting suicide and completing suicide,” he said.
“The marketing and awareness of 988 is very important. Many people still are not aware that 988 exists as a call number for crisis services,” said Doug Jackson, 988 administrator for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “In a time of crisis, people aren’t going to be thinking through a 10-digit number to call.”
Before 988 was implemented last year, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was in place but didn’t cover all of Ohio, Jackson said. In the line’s first year, about 150,000 contacts were made, he said.
“We have a much better chance of helping a person in preventing a tragic ending if the person in crisis calls that number,” Brancaccio said.
“This is going to save lives,” said Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.
Since January, 39 people in Mahoning County have taken their own lives, about 80% of whom were men, and five were veterans, he reported.
“When somebody calls the hotline, this is the darkest moment in their life,” he said. “Suicide is not about death. Suicide is not about dying. Suicide is about pain,” he said. Since January, 39 people in Mahoning County have taken their own lives, about 80% of whom were men, he said.
Addressing the increase in suicides is a priority for state legislators and Gov. Mike DeWine, state Rep. Al Cutrona of Canfield, R-58th, said. “We all have lost a loved one or a family member to suicide,” he said.
“Everyone that’s here has a personal relationship with the issue that we’re talking about,” Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler affirmed. “I can tell you four people right off the top of my head that were close friends that committeed suicide.”
As part of the event, several of those who attended went forward to sign the banner on the bus to show their support.
“When people call the suicide crisis line, they’re in pain, and most of the people that I see come through the courthouse doors, they’re in pain,” Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Carla Baldwin said.
“It seems like we need this now more than ever,” said Christine Cope, president and CEO of United Way of Trumbull County. She has seen statistics indicating rising suicide rates in Trumbull County and noted addiction is causing some of the intentional and nonintentional suicides.
“This bus is not just an advertisement, but it’s a bus with a message for hope,” Jackson said.
Pictured at top: Doug Jackson, 988 administrator for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and Vince Brancaccio, Help Network CEO.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.