Sep. 25—LIMA — Diane Tegenkamp lost her son, Joel, to suicide in 2014.
She shared her story with those gathered of Saturday's Suicide Prevention and Awareness Walk at the Veterans Memorial Civic Center. She provided some information on what to look out for in a loved one that might be considering ending their life.
"It can be different for everyone, Tegenkamp said. "Usually, there are some subtle signs — that could be a change in mood or habits... They may stop eating. They may stop taking care of themselves... They may refuse to engage with family members, or even do activities with their friends
"You may start to notice a pattern or a theme that they are no longer doing their usual routine of things And they may be sullen, withdrawn. They could be irritable."
She now works as a prevention specialist at the Prevention, Awareness Support Services office.
"And then eventually, if they really are entertaining thoughts of taking their life — there's a calmness that really throws people off guard because at that point in time, the person who's contemplating suicide is at peace with the plan that they have made, and they intend to carry it out," Tegenkamp said.
If you or a loved one is considering suicide, you can call the Helpline at 1-800-567-HOPE (4673).Alex Odenweller is a member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition and was at the walk to support the group.
"I'm an outside member. I came from Delphos," Odenweller said. "I really joined the group because I went to one meeting, and it was a heck of a group of guys and ladies that devote a whole ton of time, their careers to helping people with mental health issues and getting the stigma out of mental health."
He's seen what happens when loved ones kills themselves.
"I think we had four or five individuals both in high school then parents of high school students that I grew up with that had been lost to suicide over the span of four or five years. So I felt the duty with being involved in that to lend a hand to help," Odenweller said.
Tami Colon, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board for Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties, said the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in more people taking their lives.
"Yes, suicides are on the rise, increasing since COVID. So there is some reason to believe there's a correlation," Colon said. "The isolation, the economic conditions that some people are living in, the jobs that people lost that were part of their identity. Kids not being able to experience life events. So it's definitely has taken a toll on people's mental health."
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.