Ranking eighth among all causes of death for Floridians, suicide claimed the lives of 3,552 people statewide in 2018. That’s higher than murder, influenza and a wide range of other illnesses and diseases that garner far more attention in the media.
Governor Ron DeSantis wants that to change. He proclaimed today, Thursday, February 27, 2020, to be Florida Suicide Prevention Day. The Governor’s proclamation supports work done by Florida’s Managing Entities – regional behavioral health care administrators who hold providers accountable to the state – to connect with the communities they serve and ensure vulnerable Floridians are receiving quality care from substance abuse and mental health providers.
“Florida’s priority is to reduce the number of families in crisis by increasing access to prevention and pre-crisis contacts,” said Governor DeSantis in his proclamation. “Florida Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness in hopes of preventing a devastating impact on Florida’s families and communities.”
Between 2008 and 2018 Florida’s suicide rate per 100,000 population increased from 14.6 to 17.0 according to the Florida Department of Health.
In order to fight this increase, Florida mental health advocates are focusing on preventative services as well as increased public education about potential warning signs.
Common warning signs include increased use of drugs or alcohol, talking about hopelessness or no reason to live, talking about being a burden to others, and extreme mood swings.
“Florida’s Managing Entities collaborate with communities and providers to increase access to substance abuse and mental health services,” said Natalie Kelly, chief executive officer of the Florida Association of Managing Entities. “Our priority is to make sure those in need can receive this critical care in a way that is effective and lasting.”
The Florida Association of Managing Entities (FAME) represents Florida’s seven regional managing entities. They are local, not-for-profit businesses with community boards that administer, manage and ensure accountability of state and federal funds for Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) services.
First Lady Casey DeSantis, chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, has partnered with agencies across the state to develop better prevention and intervention strategies to decrease deaths by suicide in Florida. Supporters of suicide prevention are wearing green to raise awareness throughout the day.