October 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
60°F

United Way: Suicide prevention is ‘greatest need in Medina County’

The United Way of Medina County and dozens of other local agencies gathered in Sharon Township on Friday to discuss teen suicide prevention.

United Way Executive Director Seth Kujat said the meeting had been planned since July, but took on greater importance because the conference was held the day after a 15-year-old Montville Township boy died in an apparent suicide.

Seth Kujat, director of the United Way of Medina County, leads a discussion Friday with mental health experts about suicide prevention among the county’s youths. The discussion was part of a Coalition for Suicide Prevention planning meeting. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

Kujat said he hoped the discussions would help prevent such tragedies.

“I don’t know that it’s ever been as urgent as it is now,” Kujat said. “I think it might be happening a little too late.”

Friday’s meeting was part of the county’s Coalition for Suicide Prevention and was aimed at setting up specific solutions to the problem of teenage suicide.

Several conclusions were reached, Kujat said, including the need to break the stigma that reaching out for help is a sign of weakness.

Kujat said the group’s effort would focus on fostering positive relationships between students and counselors, youth support groups and awareness initiatives.

Kujat said the idea was to improve existing programs, not to create new ones.

“The key is to start these developments today — or better yet, yesterday,” Kujat said Friday.

The strategies set at the meeting are still in the drafting phase, he said, so there’s still room for them to evolve and mold.

“In my opinion, it’s the greatest need in Medina County right now,” Kujat said. “We have to show these kids that our community supports them.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.