0013 Thrive and Connect: Suicide Survivors – Ohio Supreme Court Justice (ret.) Evelyn Stratton

Retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton discusses her path of increased awareness of and desire to help those with mental illness, individuals who should be in the health care system rather than prison.hope-candle-hands11205410_s

She shares her personal experience of losing a close friend who had lost his wife to suicide and in turn decided to end his own life.

The fact is mentioned that lawyers have a rate of depression three times greater than the normal population.

She also points out that suicide doesn’t always have the face of mental illness.

By helping the survivors of suicide deal with their issues the odds increase that they will become healthy and stay healthy. Her advice to those around a survivor is to be proactive. Don’t wait to be called, go ahead and contact them.

It can help to wait a few weeks after the traumatic event. It may fill a void created by those who initially help but eventually have to go back to their daily routine.

Justice Stratton points out that friends of the deceased may have their own difficulties even though not a relative. This can apply to friends at work or a cashier at the store. They should seek support as needed.

The possible ambivalence towards life and the fact an individual can go back and forth between wanting to live and wanting to die is discussed. She relates a friend who acted normal while planning his own suicide. The signs aren’t always there to observe in a clear-cut manner.

Suicide and mental difficulties among the military and how the legal system should deal with them is discussed along with the difficulties of reintegrating into daily life. She relates how her experience in this arena has shown the value of veteran courts being used to help these at-risk individuals. Specifically there are veteran justice outreach specialists available to help veterans in the criminal justice system. There are 17 such veteran courts in Ohio.

Justin Stratton discusses drug-and mental health courts and how they accept the challenge of getting the individual out of the criminal justice system through support.

7000 police officers in Ohio have been trained with regards to mental health issues. She stresses, though, that one not need wait for others to take on the responsibility. Just reach out and try to help one veteran. If you want to help you can go to the Ohio Department of Veteran Services if you want to help if you want to help whose website provides a great deal of services and resources.

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