Suicide is the second leading cause of death for American youth and a leading cause of death right here in Broward County. Yet, suicide as a cause of death receives dramatically less attention than other public health issues, such as heart disease, various types of cancer or HIV.
Why? There are prejudices and discrimination about mental health issues and suicide that have prevented the public from having honest and fact-driven conversations about suicide. Suicide Prevention Month, each September, gives us an opportunity to shed light on this issue and educate the public.
In addition to educating yourself on suicide statistics, know the warning signs of suicide, which include:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves
- Talking about feeling hopeless, feeling trapped, in unbearable pain or having no reason to live
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing use of alcohol and drugs
- Aggressive, impulsive or reckless behavior
- Withdrawal from friends, family and community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Sleeping too little or too much
Forty-six percent of people who die by suicide had a known mental health condition. Other things that make put a person at risk of suicide include:
- Family history of suicide
- Substance abuse
- Access to firearms and other lethal means
- A serious or chronic medical illness
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Prolonged stress
- A recent tragedy or loss of relationship(s)
- Being male – men are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide than women
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Stigma associated with asking for help
- Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
Here in Broward County, we are working with national experts to build a comprehensive, data-driven and evidence-based suicide prevention strategy to address the problem right where we live. In partnership with Broward Behavioral Health Coalition and the American Association of Suicidology, United Way of Broward County has formed the Broward County Suicide Prevention Coalition. The intention of the Coalition is to align, inform and convene all suicide prevention efforts across the county while increasing systemic support and empowering partnerships. The Coalition is currently convening in order to analyze local suicide trends, and to develop a countywide suicide prevention strategy and strategic plan for increasing community capacity for resiliency. For more information on the Broward County Suicide Prevention Coalition, contact Lois Beaulieu at [email protected].
To learn about mental health first aid training so you can better support someone in a suicidal crisis, contact Aisha McDonald at [email protected].
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, please dial 2-1-1 or 954-537-0211, or text your zip code to 89821.