Pictured L-R: Chancellor John Carey, Dean Walter Horton Jr., Ph.D., Representative Marlene Anielski, President Jim Tressel, Maurice Clarett

During a press conference at the Statehouse this afternoon, State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills) joined other public leaders in highlighting the state’s efforts in recent years to increase awareness and access to suicide prevention programs. She also discussed newly introduced legislation designed to help school districts and private schools across Ohio provide counseling to students in need of emotional support.

"The goal is to assist Ohioans who are emotionally struggling through all the state initiatives and bills which have become law or are still in the General Assembly," Anielski said. "It is my hope that constituents get the assistance needed for their personal wellness. All school staffs, parents and students can deal effectively with emotional well being through online prevention and school intervention programs to meet the social and emotional needs of all students, which in turn can inspire and empower our student learners." 

In 2013, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, and, on average in Ohio, one person dies by suicide every six hours. Nationwide, a suicide takes place every 13.7 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Rep. Anielski has been a leading advocate for suicide prevention since joining the House in 2011, including sponsoring the “Jason Flatt Act, Ohio, in honor of Joseph Anielski” (HB 543, 129th General Assembly), designating September 10th as “Ohio Suicide Prevention Day” (HB 149, 130th General Assembly), and expanding access to suicide prevention programs on college campuses (HB 28, 131st General Assembly). Additionally, she voted for the most recent budget bill (HB 64), which appropriated $2 million for suicide prevention efforts.

Last week, Rep. Anielski introduced 10 pieces of legislation that would create specialty license plates for several schools in Cuyahoga County. Proceeds from the plates would be used to help fund programs at the corresponding schools that assist in the emotional and mental well being of the students.

Joining Rep. Anielski were Walter E. Horton, Jr., PhD., Vice President for Research/Dean, College of Graduate Studies at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED); John Carey, Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education; Jim Tressel, President of Youngstown State University; and Maurice Clarrett, running back for the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes’ national championship team and now a public speaker who meets with college kids all over the country.

"As one of NEOMED's research focus areas, Community-Based Mental Health obviously is of paramount importance to our mission," Dean Horton said. "But when the community of focus is higher education campuses, and therefore includes our children, it becomes everyone's community. And when the issue is one of suicide prevention, mental health and safety becomes everyone's mission. We are passionate in our work on suicide prevention, and we are grateful for advocates such as State Representative Marlene Anielski whose support helps us to engage campuses and mental health concerns across the entire state."

“I am hopeful that this legislation will provide help across our state for students who may otherwise be suffering in silence,” Chancellor Carey said. “College can be an extremely enjoyable time, but it can also be an extremely stressful time. Students who are going through a difficult time or who may be feeling suicidal thoughts should know that there are resources available to them that are easily accessible.”

“House Bill 28 is a blessing for the students at our institutions in Ohio,” President Tressel said. “This is a very challenging time for young people, and we will be so fortunate to be able to serve their needs through these wonderful resources and this critical initiative.”

Former Ohio State football player and now public speaker Maurice Clarett shared his personal story about battling with mental health and suicidal thoughts and how he was able to get help. “I essentially got the assistance and the same resources that are being made available to kids on college campuses,” he said. “I can thank a lot of people for showing me a level of vulnerability and showing me the resources that were available to me.”

Full video of today’s press conference is available here: http://www.ohiochannel.org/Index.aspx?liveStreamId=9

Rep. Anielski has also recorded public service announcements about suicide prevention, which will be sent at a later time.

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