Suicides outpace opiate-related deaths in Four County area

Staff report

Opiate use has been called an epidemic nationally, and opiate-related deaths are usually reported as being on the rise. Consequently, the Four County ADAMhs Board has received $585,000 from the state this year alone for opiate-related services.

However, ADAMhs Board CEO Les McCaslin reported that suicide deaths in Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties have dramatically out-paced opiate-related deaths over the last three years.

Citing health department death certificates, he told ADAMhs Board members at their Oct. 11 meeting that opiate-related deaths in the four county area peaked in 2016 when 27 persons died. The number dropped to 11 last year and so far in 2018 only 3 opiate-related deaths have been recorded.

In contrast, during the same three-year period suicide deaths have been 21 in 2016, 26 in 2017 and so far this year 22 persons have completed suicide.

“While there are pockets in Ohio where opiate use and deaths are high, it isn’t as great a concern for us as suicide,” McCaslin said.

“This year, the state has given our board $585,000 that can only be spent on opiate-related services and it will be difficult to spend that much by the end of our fiscal year,” he said. “By comparison, the state has only approved $18,500 for our board that is earmarked for suicide prevention services.”

Instead, the board has used local levy dollars to increase its efforts to develop on-going programs to improve community understanding of mental health and change attitudes about seeking treatment for mental health problems.

For example, $125,000 has been allocated to support a collaborative effort with the four county health departments to develop an on-going campaign to promote mental wellness. The board has also allocated $80,000 for the area United Way offices to develop and implement a mental wellness and nutrition curriculum for the elementary schools.

Several years ago, the board provided leadership to create and support a multi-agency Four County Suicide Prevention Coalition. And, the board has largely funded the costs to establish and maintain a Four County Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS) team.

McCaslin also updated the board on the mental health renewal levy campaign.

The ADAMhs Board has a seven-tenths mill, five year renewal levy on the November ballot. First approved in 1989 and extended every five years, the tax generates nearly $2.1 million a year, or 29 percent of the board’s budget.

For the owner of a $100,000 home, the tax costs $20.30 a year.

Last year, 7,800 persons received board-funded behavioral health services and an additional 4,879 persons received health care services through the board’s agreement with Health Partners of Western Ohio.

Allma Miller, the executive director of the Northwest Ohio Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), explained the services that the agency provides children who are involved with the courts in Defiance, Henry and Williams counties because of abuse and neglect issues.

In the last year, CASA volunteer advocates have served 106 children and the program has trained 25 community volunteers to serve as CASA advocates.

The ADAMhs Board provides $25,000 to CASA for placement and custody cases involving children. In many of the cases, parental use or abuse alcohol or other drugs is involved.

The board approved the following contracts:

• $150,000 with the Promedica Health System to provide behavioral health services for youth and adults at their facilities in Defiance, Toledo and Sylvania.

• An additional $7,500 for New Home Development Company.

• $7,500 for each of the D.A.R.E. programs operated by the Defiance, Henry and Williams county sheriff’s offices.

• $7,500 for the school-based substance abuse program operated by the Fulton County prosecutor’s office.

• Up to $20,000 for the Center for Child and Family Advocacy for contract services provided during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.

Staff report