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Rep. Marlene Anielski Joins Public Leaders, Military Veterans to Highlight State's Suicide Prevention Efforts

November 9, 2017
Republican Newsroom

Press Release Poster

State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills) today joined several public leaders, experts and military veterans at a Statehouse press conference to highlight suicide the state’s suicide prevention efforts.

In Ohio, suicide is the leading cause of death among 10-14 year-olds and the second-leading cause of death among those between 15 and 34. On average, one person dies by suicide every five hours in the state.

“The goal behind all of our suicide prevention efforts to make sure people know there is help available for anyone who is struggling,” said Anielski, who has been a leading advocate for suicide prevention since joining the House in 2011. “Sometimes even saying the word ‘suicide’ is uncomfortable, so we are working hard to break through that stigma. Understanding all of the options and resources that are out there is the first step toward overcoming the silent epidemic.”

Her work includes sponsoring the “Jason Flatt Act, Ohio, in honor of Joseph Anielski” (HB 543, 129th General Assembly), designating September 10th as “Ohio Suicide Prevention Day” (HB 149, 130th General Assembly), and expanding access to suicide prevention programs on college campuses (HB 28, 131st General Assembly). Additionally, she voted for the most recent budget bill (HB 64), which appropriated $2 million for suicide prevention efforts.

Last year, Anielski also sponsored House Bill 440, legislation that designates the Saturday before Thanksgiving as “Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.” It is a day when friends and family join together for healing and support to cope with the tragedy of losing a loved one to suicide.

Among the guest speakers was Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel, who detailed what universities like YSU are doing to reach out to troubled students and provide assistance and support to reduce the suicide rate among young adults.

“In working together with all groups of people, our mission is to help them understand that there is help available and there is hope if you’ll reach out for it,” Tressel said. “We are here for them to create that hope in their lives, we’re here for them when they have those moments of questioning the hope in their lives. It is truly an honor to be a part of this discussion.”

Nearly 20 percent of all adult suicide deaths in the United States are by military veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. With Veterans Day coming up on Saturday, two military veterans also shared their perspective.

Retired U.S. Air Force Sgt. Carolyn Barnes shared her perspective of experiencing three generations of family members die by suicide and stressed the importance of supporting military veterans. “I appreciate having the ability to talk and share resources and information with everyone, especially veterans,” she said. “At 22 suicides a day, we definitely need to address this, have resources for this and have places where these veterans can reach out to for assistance.”

Retired U.S. Army Capt. Holly Koester also expressed the need for further education and awareness when it comes to helping veterans cope. “Nobody wants to ask for help, and a lot of times they say they don’t need the help. Further education and outreach let veterans know that there are ways to cope with it and that they’re not alone,” Koester said. “They’re not the only one who thought about possibly taking their own lives, but there are other ways. Their life may not be the same as it was before but it can be different and it can be good.”

"We are committed to a comprehensive suicide prevention plan, which features primary prevention, access to treatment as well as post-intervention support,” said Angie Bergefurd, Assistant Director for Community Programs and Services at the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services. "We believe that through these and other efforts contained in Ohio's suicide prevention plan, we will be able to save lives and we will be able to make a difference."

In an effort to expand public awareness and outreach for suicide prevention, award-winning country music band Rascal Flatts provided a video message that was played during the press conference. It can be seen here:

The press conference also featured a video filmed previously by Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence, focusing on art therapy, one of the methods used to help individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts. It can be seen here:

“Art therapy is a healing process,” said Sharon Doyle of the Buckeye Art Therapy Association, who also spoke at the press conference. “It provides an appropriate outlet for feelings for things that people aren’t able to talk about.”

More information on suicide prevention and outreach can be found at a wide variety of resources, including:

  • And by texting “4Hope” to 741-741

Full video of the press conference can be seen here: