Tuscarawas County establishes Suicide Fatality Review Committee as suicide deaths rise

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The Tuscarawas County Health Department.
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In response to the increasing number of suicide deaths both nationally and locally, the Tuscarawas County Commissioners have approved the creation of a Suicide Fatality Review Committee. This initiative aims to identify trends and patterns to help prevent future suicide deaths among residents. Following Ohio Revised Code guidelines, Tuscarawas County Health Commissioner Katie Seward has been appointed to oversee the committee.

The Suicide Fatality Review Committee will convene its first meeting in July. Required representatives include members from the ADAMHS Board, Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office, Tuscarawas County Coroner’s Office, Tuscarawas County Job & Family Services, New Philadelphia City Health Department, and the Tuscarawas County Health Department (TCHD), among others. These members will collaborate to develop recommendations and strategies to reduce preventable suicide deaths in the county.

From January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2023, the Tuscarawas County Coroner’s Office reported 55 suicide deaths. Of those, 69% were males, and 31% were females. TCHD is partnering with the ADAMHS Board of Tuscarawas & Carroll Counties and the Empower Tusc Suicide Prevention Coalition to implement the committee’s recommendations.

“Even one suicide death in Tuscarawas County is too many,” said Seward. “Working together to review and identify strategies for suicide prevention will result in earlier interventions to provide help and life-saving hope to individuals in our community who are contemplating suicide.”

“Suicide rates in Tuscarawas County are immensely troubling,” said Natalie Bollon, ADAMHS Board Executive Director. “Our participation with the Suicide Fatality Review Committee will help inform our work as we facilitate programs to normalize the importance of seeking help to improve mental health and prevent suicide deaths. In response to county suicide data, we are already promoting a social media campaign to encourage men to talk with their loved ones or a health professional about mental health during this May’s Mental Health Awareness Month activities.”

The establishment of this committee marks a significant step in the county’s efforts to address and mitigate the tragic issue of suicide, aiming to foster a community where mental health is prioritized and supported.