Wolff to lead statewide suicide prevention effort

BATAVIA, OH — Mary Makley Wolff has been named associate director for the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, starting Feb. 8.

Wolff, a Miami Township trustee, for the past six years has served as director of the Coalition for a Drug Free Clermont County.

“I’m proud of the work we are doing building the coalition in Clermont County, including getting funding for years 1-5 and now 6-10,” Wolff said. “And now I’m looking forward to helping build a robust statewide suicide prevention coalition.”

Wolff sees parallels between her work for the drug free coalition and the suicide prevention foundation.

“We want to make sure our communities are responding as best as they can, now that we are in the COVID-19 era,” Wolff said. “It’s such a rough time for people with the isolation associated with pandemic.”  Strong communities have strong community level prevention activities and policies happening everywhere.

For example, Wolff said teens are getting shamed if they test positive and cause a whole team to quarantine. They can find themselves under attack on social media.

“We know social media is both good and bad,” Wolff said. “It provides connection, but cyber-bullying and too much screen time make a problem worse.”

Her main focus at first in the new job includes: Seeking grants for capacity building and furthering a partnership with the Voinovich School at Ohio University and Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services to build an understanding of how to build a coalition. She will assist OU and local staff in building an advocacy group among coalitions to see if policy or law changes need amending so more people may be helped.

With assistance 30 partners across the state had developed the first Statewide suicide prevention plan. The plan focuses on prevention, intervention and “postvention.”

Postvention involves helping survivors or family members who lost someone.

“We’re really good immediately after a tragedy,” Wolff said. “It’s the weeks and months later, when people have stopped bringing the casseroles and the survivor or family member has to grapple with this alone that provides the biggest challenges.”

Support groups have worked well in recovery from addiction and managing grief. Research shows that it helps to talk with someone who has walked the same path.

The plan identified three key groups with the strongest need: veterans, older male adults and youth.

“But we want to build a network inclusive of everybody,” Wolff said “I’m really looking forward to it. It builds off of work have done with drug prevention coalition. We all need to be prevention people: Faith community, law enforcement, educators…. We’ve got to share the message of being healthy and safe.”

For those interested in helping locally with either the Coalition for a Drug Free Clermont County or the Clermont County Suicide Prevention Coalition contact Lee Ann Watson, associate director of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board at 732-5200.