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Akron Billboard Campaign Looks to Combat Rising Suicide Rates

A Store it Safe billboard located on Cuyahoga Falls Ave. at Columbia Ave. in Akron.
A Store it Safe billboard located on Cuyahoga Falls Ave. at Columbia Ave. in Akron.

Billboards in Akron are encouraging residents to lock up firearms, medication and alcohol to prevent suicides. The seven billboards depict the items locked behind a padlock.

The campaign is called “Store It Safe” and is a partnership between Akron Children’s Hospital and the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics(Ohio AAP).

The Ohio AAP has beenworking with pediatricians and gun owners since 2017to expand awareness about suicide rates and the dangers of unsecured firearms.

A recent study from the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health (below) found the suicide rate in Ohio increased 24 percent between 2008 and 2017.

Sherry Blair is the injury prevention coalition coordinator for Akron Children’s who helped with the campaign. She said she was surprised to find that 1 in 3 homes with kids has a gun and 43 percent have at least one unlocked firearm.

“We just want to make sure that they have it locked up and put away. If there is a child that you feel might be at risk for suicide due to there’s been already a suicide ideation or they’re talking about it, then we would like those guns removed all the way. But, at least lock them up.”

Firearms accounted for more than half of all suicide deaths in the study, but the campaign also encourages parents to lock up medication and alcohol.

The billboards will be up until the end of June.

Visit Akron Children's website for more information about the campaign.Loading...

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Ella Abbott is studying journalism and forensic anthropology at Kent State. Abbott has previously held the positions of senior reporter for the Kent Stater, the university’s student run newspaper, and editor-in-chief of Fusion magazine, Kent State’s LGBTQ magazine. Her interests are in public policy and crime.