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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – Reducing #Stigma of #MentalHealth is Key to Reducing #Suicide Deaths | Opinion

 

The recent #suicide deaths of two students who survived the shooting at #MarjoryStonemanDouglas and a father who lost his daughter at Sandy Hook are heartbreaking reminders of the trauma that school or workplace violence can inflict on #survivors. They also underscore the need for treatment and support, long after an incident occurs.

In Florida, death by #suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group. More #teenagers and young adults die by suicide than from motor vehicle accidents or homicides. While more #girls attempt suicide and more #boys die by suicide, the rates of death by suicide have increased over the last decade for the young, the old, and our #veterans.

But there are actions we can take to reduce suicide deaths. Prevention, post-event intervention and providing community mental health treatment resources are key to reduce the number of suicide deaths.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and first lady Casey DeSantis deserve praise for hosting a mental health listening session in the wake of these recent tragedies. Florida needs a multi-track strategy for addressing its mental health challenges, and these are positive steps forward.

I am an inaugural advisory panel member of the Institute for a Safer Florida, a new organization created by the Florida Chamber of Commerce to help make our schools and workplaces safer through sharing best practices and supporting commonsense public policies. One of the institute’s key areas of focus is mental health.

Programs like #MentalHealthFirstAid teach people how to recognize the signs of a mental health or addiction crisis, initiate a conversation, and ultimately connect people to professional help and community resources. Everyone can #BeTheDifference for someone who is struggling with a mental health or substance use problem if they know what to say and what to do.

Somehow in our society, we talk openly about cancer, diabetes and heart disease yet we whisper about diseases of the brain like mental illness, #depression, and bipolar disorder. Together each one of us can raise the public awareness of suicide deaths and the role we can play in saving lives, simply by talking about it and messaging that is safe to seek treatment.

 

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#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

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Post-event intervention activities are those that reduce risk and promote healing after a suicide death. When someone experiences a loss by a suicide death, they need their own intervention—postvention—to prevent another suicide death. These interventions include offering mental health treatment using trauma-informed care, peer-to-peer support, and spiritual support.

There is also a need to improve mental health prevention programming in our schools; We should make mental health prevention programming available in every grade, in every school, for every student, every year. Better yet, make it part of the curriculum.

Just as there is no single cause that leads to death by suicide, there is no single prevention effort that will reduce suicide death rates. But a combined effort, over time, may begin to make a difference. The mental health of our young people, our veterans, our neighbors, our families, and our children is too precious to waste. Start a conversation today.

Melanie Brown-Woofter is president and CEO of Florida’s One Behavioral Health Association — the newly merged Florida Council for Community Mental Health and Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. She also serves as an advisory panel member of the newly formed Institute for a Safer Florida.

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