Addiction and mental health safety nets depend on levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After Carol Beckley’s life turned dark, she tried to end her life five or six times. After Kyle Snyder started stealing from his dad’s medicine cabinet, he ended up overdosing on opiates multiple times. Their lives have few similarities – except Beckley and Snyder were both saved by the safety net stretched out by the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. So on Monday, the two told their stories at the kickoff for the WCADAMHS levy which will appear on the November ballot. “Nothing speaks as clearly as to hear somebody’s personal story of their recovery,” said Tom Clemons, executive director of WCADAMHS. Beckley, who grew up in Wood County, started having problems 26 years ago. “My life as I knew it fell apart,” she said. She grew detached from things that were important to her, and started cutting herself. Beckley said she attempted suicide five or six times. Over the next five years, she was hospitalized about 20 times. “It was a revolving door for me,” she said. At that point, Beckley moved back to Wood County, where she found the safety net of services for people with mental health and addiction problems. Through Behavioral Connections, she was assigned a psychiatrist, therapist and case manager. She started hanging out at the Connections Center, where people cared how she was doing. “It was a place I could go on a daily basis,” Beckley said. “It got me out of my house. I started to crawl back to some sense of normalcy.” Without the levy funding for local mental health services, Beckley would not have been standing at a podium Monday telling her story. “Without the funding, without the help, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said. “Life as I know it is not the life I planned – but it is very rich.” Snyder was helped by a different safety net – one for addicts. As a child, Snyder watched as his father struggled as he waited for a kidney transplant. He remembered the burden and pain he felt as a child. “I remember at 10 years old I didn’t want to be alive,” he said. As a teenager, Snyder searched for ways to escape his world. “Anything to alter my reality,” he said. When alcohol was no longer enough, Snyder began taking his dad’s prescribed morphine from the medicine cabinet. When he was 27, his dad died. Soon after, Snyder had his first overdose. His family was warned that he might not survive. But he lived – only to repeat the process again. “I got high about a week later,” he said. Snyder remembers not really wanting to continue taking drugs. “But I couldn’t see a better alternative.” Snyder lost everything important to him, and went to rehab. He took the right…

Wood County sees spike in ‘silent epidemic’ of suicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s “silent epidemic” is no longer so hushed. The suicide deaths of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have cast some light on the incidences of people taking their own lives, said Tom Clemons, executive director of Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. Suicides are responsible for more deaths each year in Wood County than opiate overdoses. “We’ve had quite a few of them in the county,” Clemons said Tuesday during a meeting with the Wood County Commissioners. The county used to average six to seven suicide deaths a year. “That’s too many,” Clemons said. And then they spiked. In 2015 there were 17; in 2016 there were 20; in 2017 there was a drop to 11; and this year the county is on pace to hit 25. “It’s a very disturbing trend,” he said. And the numbers could actually be higher, since suicide by overdose is sometimes recorded as accidental. Wood County has a high rate of suicide among first responders, and a higher than average rate for adult males between 35 and 55 – which accounts for 77 percent of the cases in the county. The rate of suicide among local youth is low, Clemons said. “We believe that’s due to a whole number of factors,” he said. After a spike in teen suicides about a decade ago, several programs were implemented to change that trend. Prevention programs include the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program and bullying initiatives. “They build resiliency in kids,” Clemons said. “These things have been shown to be very effective.” In response to the increase in adult suicides, the ADAMHS board recently decided to fund a mobile crisis response that will take the place of The Link crisis center. The new unit is expected to be in operation by July 1. The mobile unit will respond to crises wherever the person is – at home, work, a store, or a park, Clemons said. It will have unlimited capacity for calls, so no one calling in for help will be put on hold, he added. “Everybody who answers the phone is thoroughly trained in crisis response,” he said of the new hotline. The ADAMHS board also funded training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, designed for people who are suicidal, self-harming or aggressive to others. The therapy has been proven very successful, Clemons said, and focuses on self-calming skills, mindfulness and meditation techniques. When the training is complete, Wood County should have 30 to 40 therapists available with expertise in the DBT techniques. For families or friends concerned about how to spot suicidal behavior, the National Alliance on Mental Health in Wood County offers “first aid” training on the warning signs of suicide and suggestions of how to intervene, Clemons said.

He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge … and lived to tell about it to help others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The second that Kevin Hines cleared the railing on the Golden Gate Bridge, he knew he had made a mistake. But by then, he was falling 220 feet at 75 mph. Up until that moment, Hines believed he had to kill himself. Hines spoke Tuesday morning to an auditorium full of Otsego High School students. Next month, he will talk with students at Bowling Green City Schools. He was asked to speak at local schools after the recent Wood County youth survey showed an increase in suicide ideation among 7th through 11th graders. In fact, the local rates were higher than the state and national averages. Hines told students they should not keep quiet about their pain. “I was falling apart at the seams, but I hid it from everybody,” he told the students. “Your pain is valid. Your pain matters, because you matter.” Hines was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and paranoia during his junior year of high school. The diagnosis came after he had a role in the play “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” “I was on a stage, much like this,” he told the students, pointing to their auditorium stage. When Hines looked out at the audience of 1,200 people, he was certain they were all there to kill him. He ran off the stage. Hines went to a psychiatrist, who started treating him. But Hines was resistant. “I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want something to be wrong with me.” Before long, the active, athletic teen was withdrawn, depressed and having hallucinations. After graduating, Hines enrolled in community college. But he missed many days since he had to be on the watch for postal service workers, who he believed to be assassins. But Hines knew enough to not tell his family about the assassins in white mail trucks, or that he frequently spent his nights talking to “Death.” He didn’t want his parents to think he was crazy. “So I buried it, and I silenced my pain.” But on Sept. 24, 2000, at age 19, Hines could not stand it anymore. “I found myself sitting at my desk in my room, writing a note.” He said goodbye to his dad, mom, brother, sister, and to his best friend, who he advised to get a new best friend. At 6 a.m., Hines walked into his dad’s bedroom to say that he loved him. All the while, the voices in his head were telling him he had to die. “I didn’t know my thoughts didn’t have to become my actions,” he said. “I thought I was a burden to everyone.” His dad seemed to sense something was wrong, and asked Hines to go to work with him that day. Hines reassured him that everything was fine. But before long, Hines…

Evening of Hope and Remembrance to be held Nov 11

Submitted by NAMI Wood County Those whose loved ones die by suicide suffer a loss they will never forget. But in spite of the pain, they need to remember—and honor—the person they have lost. That’s why the Wood County Suicide Prevention Coalition is holding an Evening of Hope and Remembrance November 11 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Held at the Simpson Building (1291 Conneaut Avenue, Bowling Green,) the event will bring together those who’ve suffered a loss by suicide and people who support them. It will include contemplative music, a time of sharing, light refreshments, and a closing candlelight ceremony. The public is invited to attend this free event. Over 1,400 Ohioans die by suicide each year, twelve of them (on average) in Wood County. Formed in the wake of several student suicides in the early 2000s, the Wood County Suicide Prevention Coalition works to educate the community about suicide and the depression that often precedes it. It has designed a media campaign and special programs on local public television to raise awareness. The Coalition also offers speakers on the topic and a support group for survivors of suicide, and provides the SOS (Signs of Suicide) program in local schools. For the past several years the group has hosted an Evening of Remembrance to support local people touched by suicide and help them connect with each other. For more information on the November 11 Evening of Hope and Remembrance, please contact Lisa Myers at 419-353-5661 or