In March of 2009, Cindy Price and her husband Ron Price received devastating news: their oldest son Timothy had died by suicide following a long struggle with depression. Since then, she’s dedicated her life to helping support others facing the after-suicide battles she had to fight.
Later in 2009, Dr. Greta Mayer, CEO of the Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison Counties (MHRB) invited Price to attend a Clark County Suicide Prevention Coalition meeting. Price soon became a volunteer with MHRB, and she later went with Mayer to hear Dr. Frank Campbell speak.
At that moment, Price’s experience as a suicide survivor inspired her to initiate the Local Outreach for Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team of Clark County. With the support of Mayer and MHRB, the Clark County LOSS team was officially established in 2011.
“When I heard (Campbell) talk, that’s when I knew I wanted to do this,” Price says.
Campbell is the founder of the original LOSS team launched in 1998 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He developed the LOSS team model after researching and learning it was taking an average of 4.5 years before survivors of a suicide loss reached out for help. During those years many survivors suffered in silence and developed unhealthy coping skills. Since then, Campbell has traveled across the country training others.
“A suicide survivor is anyone who knows someone who died by suicide,” says Price, who is a retired nurse of more than 40 years.
The Clark County LOSS team is comprised of volunteers – each a suicide survivor – who provide on-scene support for those touched by a recent suicide. The team works closely with city and county first responders.
Price has responded to hundreds of calls in her time as a LOSS volunteer. She says the team members understand the state of mind the survivors are in and can tell them, “I’ve been there and I’m here to help you get through this.”
When the team meets with a survivor, they offer to make necessary contacts and keep them company, as long as it is safe. The team’s goals, Price says, is to ensure survivors get the immediate care and after-care – such as mental health support – they need.
Price is honest and open with survivors, telling them: “You’re in for a hell of a year. The ‘first’ of everything is going to be terrible, and it’s going to take a while, but you will live again.”
In November, Price received the Delvin M. Harshaw Advocate of the Year Award by the MHRB. The award recognizes and honors Price’s contributions toward advocacy in the community, including her volunteer work toward the development of Clark County's LOSS team.
"(Price’s) heart of gold and compassion for helping anyone impacted by suicide were immediately apparent. She’s talented in sensing who is hurting and connecting with them in a meaningful way," Mayer says. "We’re honored to work side-by-side with Cindy through the local outreach to suicide survivors' team and in training anyone about how to respond to someone at risk for suicide."
Price – who remains humble and credits the entire LOSS team for the work they do – says she was surprised to receive the Delvin M. Harshaw Advocate of the Year Award.
LOSS team member Jerry Newport nominated Price for the award. He says firsthand experience is the primary value of the team, and Price is able to exemplify that experience, albeit a difficult one.
“Cindy is just one of those people who, through her lived experience, has the knowledge that survivors need,” he says. “She is able to size up a situation quickly and know what and what not to do. She is really the backbone of the LOSS team.”
Newport says Price is personable and well connected to the community through her previous experience as a medical professional. And though Price prefers to stay out of the limelight, she deserves the award.
“I hope this award is affirmation for what she does,” he says.
“It’s hard to see someone on the worst day of their life,” Newport says. “While it sounds daunting, some amazing things occur. While someone may be shattered at the initial intervention, with support, it’s nice to see people’s resilience and see them do well down the road.”
Sergeant Joe Tedeschi of the Springfield Police Division Crimes Against Persons Unit says Price and the LOSS team are a valuable asset to both the community and police division.
“Cindy brings a very unique set of skills with her,” he says. “Not only being a mom and a nurse – she’s also a survivor. She knows exactly what’s happening and what’s going through people’s minds. As police, we are dealing with the event, but … she brings a different mindset. She’s a great supporter of the Springfield police, and (the LOSS) program does a lot of good for us.”
Price says volunteering on the LOSS team has helped in her own healing process. She advocates for others and reassures them that it’s okay to ask for help, or to need medication and not to be ashamed.
“Suicide is such a preventable death,” Price says. “I talk to people about QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training and encourage them not to be afraid to speak up; stay with them, never leave them. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I’m worried about you.’”
The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation states that in 2018, 1,836 individuals died by suicide and from 2007 through 2018 there was a 64.4 percent increase in the number of deaths by suicide among youth (age 10-24). However, the highest rate of deaths by suicide occur in adults between the ages of 45 and 64.
Price said she has encountered suicide survivors from all walks of life and socioeconomic situations.
“Everyone grieves the same,” she says. “You go in, you give them a hug and say, ‘I’ve been there. I’m going to help you get through this.’”
If you or someone you know are in suicidal crisis, please call 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Help is also available by texting 4HOPE to 741741.