Ohio State Extension – Ashtabula County hosted a successful dinner theater on April 11, which brought together community members to promote awareness and education about mental health. Guests were treated to a delicious dinner from a local barbeque restaurant and then enjoyed a performance that focused on the ways farm stress can impact our mental health. The performers used humor and empathy to convey important messages such as recognizing signs of changing mental health, breaking down stigma and encouraging attendees to seek help when needed. Afterwards, representatives from local mental health agencies spoke about the resources available to residents of Ashtabula County.
The event was well-attended. Attendees were impressed by the performances and the engaging nature of the event, and were glad for the opportunity to learn more about mental health in a fun and non-judgmental environment.
Andrew Holden, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator, spoke about the importance of the dinner theater: “Often times we get together for an event like this after a tragedy has already happened, and I am just glad we can do this in order to hopefully prevent it.”
A special thanks to the Ohio Farm Bureau, Farm Credit, and Centerra Co-op for their support of this event. Thank you to the 4-H and FFA members who offered child care.
“The topic (mental health) has long been stigmatized in farming communities. We’re tough. We can handle things on our own. We don’t need to be all touchy-feely, talking about our emotions or our problems. Things need to get done. Animals need our care. Crops need to be harvested. Farmers would much rather push it all down inside and keep going.” This is a powerful quote from an article published by Farm and Dairy. In this article, the author features two stories of farm families impacted by suicide. Take a moment to read this piece written by author Rachel Wagoner.
As Suicide Prevention Month draws to a close for 2022, we want to remind you that if you are experiencing mental health challenges (anxiety, depression) or mental health emergencies (suicidal thoughts), YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are many people who are ready, willing, and able to help you find the resources you need to feel better. Mental health challenges can be overwhelming, but it is important to know that with the right help, recovery is both possible and probable!
Consider the following resources:
- 988- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Call or text this number to be connected to a trained counselor who will talk with you and help you connect with the right resources
- 741741- Crisis Text Line. Text this number to be connected to a trained counselor.
- Ohio Mental Health Resource Guide– click on your county to see a list of resources available in your area
- Ohio Careline- dial 1-800-720-9616 to be connected to a behavioral health professional who will offer emotional support to anyone experiencing a personal or family crisis
If you are interested in raising awareness of mental health and bringing Mental Health First Aid or QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) trainings to your community or organization, please reach out to Bridget at firstname.lastname@example.org
Words can pack a punch. Choosing nice words to give a compliment can brighten someone’s day, while negative words can incite anger or sadness.
The same is true when we discuss suicide. Many words that we have used to discuss suicide in the recent past are stigmatizing, meaning they can add a sense of blame or shame towards people who have attempted or died by suicide. This can make it difficult to talk about suicide, and it is important to talk about suicide! Over the last several years, there has been a push to change the language around suicide so we can discuss the topic without adding to the stigma.
Phrases to change, limit, or avoid:
- “Committed suicide”- have you noticed that we use phrases like “commit a sin” or “commit a crime?” While it might not be our intention, saying a person committed suicide can imply that they did something selfish or sinful and cast blame.
- “Successful suicide”- we often use the word success when we’re talking about something that is positive, such as successfully meeting a goal or running a successful business. There is nothing positive about suicide.
Phrases to use instead:
- “died by suicide”- this phrase does not add any shame or blame, but simply and clearly explains what happened.
- “completed suicide”- this phrase is also a way to simply and clearly state what happened.
Changing the words you use to talk about suicide might be difficult at first. You might accidentally slip up and use stigmatizing language instead of non-stigmatizing words. Simply correct yourself and practice using the new words. It might take a few tries to feel comfortable switching out the words you use, but it will go a long way in helping break down some of the stigma that surrounds suicide.
(If you or a loved one are experiencing a suicide crisis or other mental health crisis, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by simply dialing 988. You can also text HELP to 741741 to reach the Crisis Textline. If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health emergency or substance use emergency, dial 911.)