Expert on suicide talks at forum in Perrysburg

Dr. Jerry Reed
presenting on suicide prevention (Photo: Andrew Weber/Sentinel-Tribune)

PERRYSBURG – On average, in the United States, someone commits suicide about every 15 minutes. That’s 95
suicides per day; almost 35,000 a year.
Even then, there are suicides that go unreported, such as the single car crash with no tire marks on the
road to show an attempt to brake.
And contrary to some expectations, the population most at risk for suicide is not young white males but
men 65 and beyond, especially 85 and older.
But it took until 1997 for the federal government to realize what an epidemic suicide had become in the
nation. With that realization, and to provide states, local communities and agencies with help in the
area of suicide prevention, Congress formed the Suicide Prevention Resource Center in Washington, D.C.,
in 2002. Its director is Dr. Jerry Reed.
Reed was one of two keynote speakers Friday at the Wood County Suicide Prevention Coalition Conference,
held at the Holiday Inn French Quarter. It drew about 200 participants, from clinicians and other mental
health professionals to laymen who simply wanted to know more about the subject.
The second keynote speaker was Dr. David Jobes who shared materials he has developed which empower those
who are suicidal to seek therapy.
In his talk, "Current Issues/Progress in the Field of Suicide Prevention," Reed stressed that
many suicides are preventable because treatment and intervention are effective. In addition, every
person has a role to play, whether a family member, friend, clinician, teacher or in law enforcement.

Of America’s 34,598 suicides a year, based on 2007 statistics, the vast majority are in the 25 to 64
"working adult" age range – 24,000.
"We’ve got to get employers engaged in suicide prevention," said Reed, adding the importance of
Human Resource programs which help employees make the transition to changes in their lives.
There is good news in suicide prevention, that rates among teens 15-19 are declining overall. Reed
attributed the change, in part, to the fact that "the only grants going to states are for
youth." But those grants are "seeing results."
Ohio’s suicide rate is 10.81 for every 100,000 residents, right around the national average. And, Reed
said, Wood County’s rate comes in between 10.68 and 10.80. "Wood County might be pretty
representative of what’s going on in the state of Ohio."
Persons concerned about a loved one who might consider suicide, as well as family doctors, teachers,
elder care givers and employers, need to know the risk factors for which to watch. These include a
previous suicide attempt by the person; being impulsive or hopeless; having a life event such as job
loss, arrest, bankruptcy or major health problem, leading to shame or despair; an access to lethal
means, such as a gun (50 percent of suicides are by firearms); a mental illness, especially depression
or a mood disorder; and substance abuse with mental illness.
But there are many "protective" factors which keep people from committing suicide. Reed said
work must be done to increase these whenever possible.
They include family and community support; cultural and religious beliefs which affirm life and
discourage suicide; a restricted access to lethal means; support for those who seek help; a personal
ability to cope with stress; access to mental and physical health services; and a person’s positive
personality traits, habits and skills.
Reed is excited about the wide range of new resources which are provided by his national center. Many are
free and downloadable from the center’s Web site, Its e-mail address is [email protected], and
it can be reached by phone at (877) GET-SPRC (438-7772).
Resources include: "After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools;" "Preventing Suicide Among
LGBT Youth;" "Suicide Prevention Rural (community) Primary Care;" suicide prevention
dialogues with consumers and survivors; and a "Toolkit for Senior Living Communities." It even
offers two versions of on-line suicide prevention training, for clinicians and those who just want to be
educated as a "gatekeeper."

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