Tallahassee, Florida (Press Release) --
National Suicide Prevention Week is September 5 – 11, and World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10. Governor Charlie Crist has signed a statewide proclamation recognizing this important event in Florida. This year’s theme is “Families, Community Systems and Suicide.” Suicide is a highly preventable, widespread public health problem that affects all levels of society. Tragically, many Florida families and communities have been affected by the suicides of their loved ones, friends, classmates, co-workers and neighbors.
Several communities and organizations around the state and country are holding events this week to raise awareness and increase education on the issue. A national campaign was rolled out themed “Take 5 to Save Lives” (www.Take5toSaveLives.org). Everyone can be part of this national movement by doing simple things to advance suicide prevention, such as learning the warning signs, updating your Facebook status and tweeting about the movement, or supporting someone who is struggling.
According to the Florida Department of Health, in 2008, 2,723 Floridians died by suicide - a number surpassing HIV-related deaths (1,412) and over double the number of homicides (1,301). On average, 7 Floridians are lost each day to suicide. It is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States with one suicide occurring on average every 15.2 minutes. Suicide is also the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 – 24. Each suicide intimately affects at least 6 other people, which means an estimated 4.6 million Americans are survivors of the suicide of a friend, family member, or loved one.
Suicide is preventable and there are almost always warning signs and indicators when someone is considering suicide. According to the American Association of Suicidology, some warning signs are: threatening to hurt or kill oneself; seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other lethal means; and talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary. Additional warning signs include: increased alcohol or drug use; feeling as though there is no reason to live; anxiety, agitation or sleeplessness or sleeping excessively; feeling trapped, like there’s no way out; hopelessness; withdrawal from friends and family; rage and uncontrolled anger; acting reckless or engaging in risky activities; and dramatic mood changes. If you observe any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK for a referral.
The Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention was established in law in 2007 and is charged with guiding Florida's suicide prevention efforts by developing mechanisms for implementing the Florida Suicide Prevention Strategy, providing oversight, building capacity, creating policy, and mobilizing communities, with the overall goal of lowering suicidality and improving quality of life for Floridians.
To learn more about suicide prevention initiatives in Florida and what you can do to help, please visit the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention website at the link below.
The full press release is attached above.