Tuesday, March 24th, was AFSP Advocacy Day at the Ohio Capitol. Rep. Marlene Anielski [R] of the Ohio House of Representative 6th District sponsored House Bill 28 which mandated that Ohio’s Colleges and Universities provide students with access to information on crisis intervention, suicide prevention and mental health resources. This information should be widely available through social media and apps and help to prevent the third leading cause of death among college students. Pomegranate joined all of Ohio’s AFSP chapters, members and walk sponsors in meeting with house representatives to introduce the bill, and make them aware of the legislation and the importance of a ‘yes’ vote. AFSP educated advocates through a webinar before-hand, and Rep. Anielski came and spoke about the loss of her son to suicide and specifically House Bill 28. Thursday, March 26th, the bill came up for a vote and passed. It will go on to the Ohio Senate.
In the AFSP packets are stories of those whose lives were lost to suicide, and whose survivors came to advocate. (There are more of the same- hundred fold- who come to an Out of the Darkness walk.) Here is a sampling of quotes from some of their stories:
“Little did we know the reason he was always laughing and joking around was because he was suffering from depression and did not want anyone to know.Depression is an illness just like diabetes or cancer. No one chooses to be depressed.”
“No one in my family really understood depression and too many times felt that Dad could pull himself out of it if he just tried. After all, never in my life had I seen anything thrown at him that he couldn’t conquer. He talked about suicide, but I believed the myth that talking about it meant that he would never do it. I was wrong.”
“On August 10, 2011 I received a phone call that changed my life forever; my only sibling, ‘’S’, had taken his own life. For many years ‘S’ struggled with severe depression. Due to the lack of affordable resources in my hometown and the stigma attached to mental health issues, ‘S’ began to cope with his depression through drinking.’
‘It is especially hard on events that are milestones, such as college graduations, new births, and weddings.’
“I told my story of ‘P’s’ 15 years of depression and struggle to survive to groups of loss survivors, professional clinicians, researchers and school personnel. Through this experience, my son’s life was not just another statistic, but now became a mission to change legislation, promote advocacy, and educate others about mental health, and more important to save lives.”
As we met with our assigned state representatives in their offices, the power of engagement and advocacy for a worthy cause became apparent. The mission and goal of education, building alliances and advocacy took on new meaning this week. Thanks to all who participated and all those who voted ‘yes’.
The buttons we wore said, ‘Ask me 3 ways to prevent suicide.’ Each person had their own variation, but ‘listen’, ‘connect’ and ‘love’ were top of mind for the Pom Kid representative. Call 1-800-273-TALK.