‘Active recovery is a wonderful thing,’ Dayton groups work toward stopping suicides

A candlelight vigil was held in Dayton Tuesday night September 7, 2021 to remember, honor and cherish lives lost to suicide. PARKER PERRY/STAFF
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A candlelight vigil was held in Dayton Tuesday night September 7, 2021 to remember, honor and cherish lives lost to suicide. PARKER PERRY/STAFF

Suicide does not discriminate and affects people of every age, race and social-economic status, local experts say, but there are tools in the Dayton community for those who are struggling.

“You would be surprised how many people have someone in their family or have someone close to them that has either attempted or that have lost someone,” said Sallie Wilson Luther, a volunteer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Luther, who lost her sister to suicide, co-founded the Dayton Out of the Darkness Walk to help bring light to the issue.

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She said people suffering physical, mental or emotional pain can get to a point where they get tunnel vision and don’t see any other choice -- but there are. Some people suffer from treatable conditions like depression, she said, while others need a support network.

“If you see someone struggling, don’t give up on them,” she said. “It can be a real struggle but we have to help give them hope.”

More than 900 people have died by suicide in Ohio so far this year and more than 1,500 people in the state died by it in 2020, according to preliminary data from the Ohio Department of Health.

The health department data also shows since 2017, almost 8,000 people have died by suicide in Ohio.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Last week, groups and individuals gathered at Levitt Pavillion to remember those lost to suicide and held a candlelight vigil.

At the vigil was the Rev. William Schwochow, who is the pastor at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Xenia. He said he is a survivor. He said that he felt isolated and under an extreme amount of stress at the time but now works as a recovery advocate and helps others who are going through their own issues.

Schwochow said he recommends anyone going through suicidal thoughts to reach out past barriers and connect with services and people who can help.

“Active recovery is a wonderful thing,” he said. “Active recovery is where we learn to empower ourselves to do the things we think we can’t do. I often say in a faith perspective that recovery is the transformation to our ideal self.”

He said one thing he learned through his recovery process was the importance of living in the moment.

“We are able to live out of gratitude and we realize how much we do have and how much we value ourselves,” Schwochow said. “The other thing that is really, really important is to stay in the present. We often get locked into old behavior and feel fear and anxiety about the future. We can’t do anything about that, we can do what’s happening right now.”

One tool Schwochow recommends everyone get is the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services app “GetHelpNow.”

The app lists prevention and treatment services in the Dayton community, Colleen Oakes, manager at the Montgomery County Prevention Coalition, said.

“If individuals or someone they know is suffering from substance abuse issues or mental health problems, they can search the resources that are available to them in our community,” she said.

The coalition also provides other services like giving out suicide prevention coasters to local establishments and free gun locks to residents of Montgomery County.

Dayton Daily News reporter Kaitlin Schroeder contributed to this article.

How to get help

The free and confidential 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 or text Hope to 741-741.

The Montgomery County Prevention Coalition can be reached at its website https://www.preventionmc.org/ or at 1-937-443-0416.

An app called “GetHelpNow” by the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services can be down loaded to a cell phone.