- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State officials are hoping more research, access to around-the-clock crisis hotlines and efforts to end the stigma of suicide will help reduce the hundreds of lives lost when people kill themselves each year in Ohio.

Several programs were announced Thursday, including more resources for survivors, increased training for people who work with at-risk individuals, adding text message support for hotlines, and continued support for the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation.

“Suicide remains a major public health across the nation,” said Tracy Plouck, director of the state Mental Health and Addiction Services agency.

The efforts - announced by a group of health, mental health, addiction services and Medicaid officials - are part of $2 million set aside by Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the current two-year budget.

Officials say 1,200 to 1,500 people die by suicide annually in Ohio.

Denise Meine-Graham, of Columbus, whose 19-year-old son, Drey, killed himself in 2012, said the number one preventative step people can take is to ask individuals they’re worried about whether they’re thinking about suicide.

“So many people think that if you bring that up, you’re going to put the idea in their head, and that’s just not true,” Meine-Graham said. “They’re going to be relieved when they hear, ‘I can talk about this. I’ve got somebody that’s not running away scared. They’re bringing it up.’ It’s a relief when they’re able to talk about it.”

Backers of the prevention efforts also plan a campaign to encourage people to be aware of signs of depression and suicidal behavior.

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This story has been corrected to show that the programs were announced Thursday, not Wednesday.


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