BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – September is Suicide Awareness Month. The Help Network of Northeast Ohio teamed up with a few local gyms to host a weightlifting competition.
The gyms are hosting 5x5x5 competitions to represent the five people who commit suicide every day in Ohio.
The first of three competitions were held Saturday at BSS Fitness in Boardman.
“Most people utilize fitness and healthy living to have better mental health outcomes. So that’s the purpose of this, this is why we chose this. To be a little different for mental health awareness type of situation, to provide a solution opposed to just awareness,” said event organizer Mark Jones.
The events raised money for the help network, which is the suicide hotline serving the Valley.
“We’re 24/7, 365. Our hope is to get the message out. Our hope is to help break the chain of suicide because we know that 1,800 families each year are affected by a death of a loved one to suicide,” said Help Network of Northeast Ohio CEO Vince Brancaccio.
One woman who competed is a survivor of attempted suicide and said it is important to talk about mental health.
“Everything that you face, it’s all temporary. Whatever you’re facing, it can be overcame,” said Mandy Stingis.
There will be two other weightlifting competitions this month. The first will be at ONYX 24/7 Fitness Club at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11. The other will be at Mi Gym at 10 a.m. on Sept. 25.
The biggest takeaway – being there for those experiencing depressive and suicidal thoughts and feelings.
“Listen. If you have a friend or family member who’s saying, ‘I don’t want to live anymore, you know, I want to die,’ don’t avoid that topic,” Brancaccio said.
“You got to love them. You got to love these people no matter what they’ve facing. Don’t judge, just be there. Just let them know that you’re there,” Stingis said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact The Help Network on their website or call 211 for other available resources in your area.
For more information on the weightlifting competitions, call (330) – 507-1406.