COLUMBUS (WCMH) – While fans watched Saturday’s game between Ohio State and Purdue, signs and billboards promoting mental health could be seen around the stadium.
The campaign, called T.A.L.K., is hosted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and the school’s department of psychiatry to educate people on the importance of talking about suicide and finding people the support they need.
T.A.L.K. stands for Tell them you care, Act immediately, Listen without judgement, and Know that treatment works.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people struggling with mental health actually doubled, and national statistics show that 130 people in the U.S. die every day from suicide, with at least five of them being from Ohio.
“What we hear from many people who have struggled with suicidal thoughts, is that when somebody reached out to them, listened to them without judgment, they cared, showed compassion, that’s oftentimes a thing that can help pull them back from the edge,” said Dr. Craig Bryan, STAR professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Ohio State University.
At the game, information was shared with the public through audio and video announcements, all to help encourage people to talk about suicide.
“We know that mental health issues precede suicide, so if you sort of think of the fact that we have two to three times more problems with mental health, one should be alarmed that there might be an increased rate of suicide, as well as overdose deaths, in the coming months and years,” said Dr. K. Luan Phan with the school’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Health department.
Before he became a STAR professor at Ohio State, Bryan served in the U.S. Air Force. He said bringing awareness to this issue is personal, because of the thousands of veterans lost to suicide each year.
“Our work here at the Ohio State University is dedicated to helping service members and veterans struggling with suicidal thoughts, so to know that the university is so supportive of that mission, so supportive of that is just very meaningful,” Bryan said.
The T.A.L.K. campaign also held booths and trailers outside the stadium at the game and ran a minute-long informational video on the jumbotron during halftime.