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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – Point of View: Reducing #Stigma Of #MentalHealth Is Key To Reducing #Suicide Deaths

The recent #suicide deaths of two students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a father who lost his daughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School 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.

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

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

Florida needs a multi-track strategy for addressing its #mentalhealth challenges, and these are positive steps forward.

As a state, what can we do? Let’s start with prevention. This includes training and education aimed at reducing the #stigma of #mentalhealth treatment, particularly for people having #suicidalthoughts. Studies show that the Gen X and Boomer generations are less likely to make a negative association about seeking #mentalhealthtreatment. However, those in the Generation Z and Millennial generations are more likely to feel ashamed when actively seeking help.

Programs like #MentalHealthFirstAid teach people how to recognize the signs of a #mentalhealth 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 #mentalhealth 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 #mentalillness, #depression and bi-polar 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.

Post-event intervention activities are those which reduce risk and promote healing after a #suicide death. We know that a key indicator for a future #suicide death is a past attempt. When someone experiences a loss by a #suicide death, they need their own intervention to prevent another #suicide death. These interventions include offering #mentalhealth treatment using trauma-informed care, peer-to-peer support, and spiritual support.

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

Additional #mentalhealth expansion should include services for students year-round, not just during the school year. Plus, the #MentalHealthFirstAidTraining should be offered to both parents and #students along with school personnel. The training can help students feel safe in reporting #suicidethoughts and other #mentalhealth concerns.

These are the types of programs and activities that the Institute for a Safer Florida endorses.

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 #mentalhealth of our young people, our veterans, our neighbors, our families, and our children is too precious to waste. Start a conversation today.

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