State of Florida Looks to Reduce Number of Suicides

Every day in Florida, six people take their own lives and it's the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24. Gov. Jeb Bush is now getting behind an effort to turn those numbers around.

Bonnie McClelland still tears up when she reads the suicide note left by her son three years ago. Timothy was 17 when he took his life. He’d told friends of his plan and made vague references to not being around in the future, but Bonnie was blindsided.

Bonnie says, "He was my only child, and it still hurts. Had I known the warning signs and risk factors, I might have been able to make a difference, but I’ll never have that privilege of knowing."

Nearly 2,300 people take their own lives in Florida every year. It’s a subject no one wants to talk about, but Jeb Bush is getting behind an effort to bring down the number of suicides by one third over the next five years.

Gov. Jeb Bush says, “While many communities have outreach programs, there’s no single person in charge of coordinating a statewide effort.”

Rep. Ed Jennings is co-sponsoring a bill to change that. He says the real key will be getting people to talk openly about suicide and mental health issues.

Rep. Ed Jennings, (D) Gainesville, says, “We’ve got to create an environment so that when people have stress and may be depressed, that they begin to share those issues with other people.

Bonnie McClelland says it’s too late for her little boy, but she hopes by sharing his story, she can raise awareness for others while they still have time to reach out.

The governor’s proposed budget puts 220,000 new dollars into the state’s suicide prevention efforts, and adds another six and a half million to mental health programs.