Local Funders Partner to Address Suicide Prevention in Stark

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$350,000 in funding to improve coordinated awareness, education efforts

man-woman park walkStark County, OH (Feb. 24, 2017) The suicide rate in Stark County grew more than 20% in 2016. Five local funders are contributing a total of $350,000 to address the year-over-year increase of suicide deaths in Stark County. Since 2010, Stark County’s suicide rate has been above the national average.

The grant is being coordinated and administered by Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery. Designed to address a comprehensive need for coordinated awareness and education in Stark County, this collaboration of funders aims over the next three years to concentrate resources and efforts at those areas most likely to raise public awareness, reduce stigma, and ultimately decrease the number of Stark County residents completing suicide.

These organizations are coming together to collectively have greater impact on the behavioral health care needs in Stark County versus funding in isolation. Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton spearheaded the project, working with Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery and Crisis Intervention and Recovery Center to identify future needs and address pressing challenges, and partnered with the Stark Community Foundation to encourage broad participation from visionary community funders in Stark County.

In addition to the Stark Community and Sisters of Charity Foundations, the Hoover Foundation, The Deuble Foundation, and Austin-Bailey Health & Wellness Foundation made commitments to the grant. The Stark Community Foundation donation includes $10,000 from The Stark County Mental Health Association Charitable Fund, $31,500 from The Robert A. Litman and Ruth E. Litman Charitable Fund, $1,500 from The James K. and Carol Luntz Charitable Fund, $500 from The James V. and Velia Armogida Charitable Fund and $500 from The Dean G. and Jane G. Lauritzen Philanthropic Fund. A funding collaboration at this level fully appreciates the efficiency and effectiveness of partnering with others.

Grant strategies will focus on those with increased risk of suicide: older males, individuals 75 years and older, youth and young adults up to age 24, and veterans. Efforts will include:

  • A community assessment to identify service gaps and determine the best ways to reach the community. Information gathered during the assessment will then be used to devise a concrete plan of action.
  • Training in consistent, best-practice methods of screening and treatment, and universal implementation of suicide probability assessments. Particular attention will be paid to individuals released from the hospital after a suicide attempt, when their chance of another attempt is at its highest.
  • Expansion of community partnerships and implementation of mass marketing and social media campaigns, to educate and reduce stigma. This will include efforts to increase awareness of the Stark County Crisis Text Line, because of its appeal to younger populations.
  • Renovation of the Crisis Center’s stabilization unit to ensure that it meets evidence-based environments of care recommendations. Studies show that the care environment is a critical part of recovery.
  • Establishment of a fatality review board to aid in future prevention efforts.

For more information about the grant, please contact Allison Esber at Allison.Esber@StarkMHAR.org or 330-455-6644.

Stark County Suicide Deaths


Year Suicide Deaths
2011 49
2012 56
2013 62
2014 57
2015 59
2016 * 75


*2016 data unofficial as final reports from coroner’s office are pending due to ongoing investigation.