Shine your light and make a difference in a life

Cathy Brownfield

“Debbie” knew her mother was troubled about something. But she hadn’t spoken of it yet. She would, though. Her mother wasn’t one to sweep things under the rug. She faced problems head on and wasn’t satisfied until the problems were resolved.


“I want you to take the rifle and the pistol to your house for a while,” her mother said. She spoke of her concerns for Debbie’s brother who was deeply depressed and she feared he would harm himself.

That was in the days when self-harm, suicidal ideation, wasn’t something people talked about because it might plant the seed for someone in a troubled state. It was hidden in the dark. But now it is being brought out into the light.

One in five people are living with mental health or substance use disorders which are major risks for suicide. When Gov. Mike DeWine took office, one of the first things he did was to create the RecoveryOhio Advisory Board to “provide suggestions on how to improve mental health and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery support services in Ohio.”

In 2020, Ohio lost 230 veterans to suicide. Nearly 200 non-white Ohioans died by suicide in a single year. Annually, nearly 1,000 older Ohioans lose their lives to suicide. And among our youth, ages 10 to 14, suicide is the leading cause of death, according to the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation (OSPF). Think about these facts for a moment.


“There is huge stigma with suicide,” said Austin Lucas, program director for OSPF. The person suffering thinks that nobody cares about them, Lucas said. “It doesn’t take a professional to intervene. It just takes someone who truly cares, is compassionate and shows empathy. It’s about showing someone you care.”

The executive director of OSPF, Tony Coder, advises that we lose five Ohioans each day and a child every 33 hours to suicide. This has to change, he said. “They need to be able to share their feelings and not be afraid. We can be that life preserver for someone having suicidal thoughts.”

In talking about it, the power is taken away from the act, and the stigma becomes less, the experts say. A simple, “How are you?” can make the difference. The person suffering needs to understand that they are not alone, that others care about them enough to ask. We just never know what someone else is going through because we haven’t walked a mile in their mocassins. Even a smile, a “Hello,” from a stranger might make the difference. You could be the one that makes the difference when you let your light shine. There is help and there is hope. Visit for more information. You also can access the Suicide Prevention Plan for Ohio at

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you know is in crisis right now, text 988 to be connected to a trained professional at the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This service is available 24/7.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. Contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email Visit the website at You can find Family Recovery Center at Facebook. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.