Governor and First Lady DeSantis Highlight Mental Wellbeing Efforts in Recognition of Suicide Prevention Month

September is Observed as Suicide Prevention Month in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This month, Governor Ron DeSantis issued a proclamation declaring September as Suicide Prevention Month in Florida. In recognition of this month, Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis are highlighting the administration’s suicide prevention and mental wellbeing efforts.

“In Florida, we want to ensure our residents have somewhere to turn when struggling with life’s challenges,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The First Lady has championed the issue of resiliency and supporting the mental wellbeing of all Floridians. Our administration continues to work with partners throughout Florida to prevent suicide and to connect those in need of mental wellbeing resources with trustworthy services.”

“The Florida Children and Youth Cabinet had the opportunity to address an epidemic that has tragically taken hold – youth suicide,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis, Chair of the Children and Youth Cabinet. “Through the Hope for Healing initiative, we are focused on identifying strategies to reduce stigma surrounding mental health, and aiming to promote positive mental wellbeing to ensure those in need have access to necessary services to build the resiliency of all Floridians.”

The Governor and First Lady have placed significance on improving access to and awareness of mental wellbeing resources since coming into office, through:

 

  • Providing $120 million for district Mental Health Assistance programs and $5.5 million for Youth Mental Health Awareness and Assistance to continue evidence-based training to help school personnel identify and understand the signs of mental health and substance abuse problems for Fiscal Year 2021-2022.
  • Dedicating $4.7 million to support and expand evidence-based suicide prevention efforts of Managing Entities and the Statewide Office for Suicide Prevention for Fiscal Year 2021-2022.
  • Launching a new initiative spearheaded by the First Lady in collaboration with the Department of Education to help children build resiliency by adding curriculum around character development skills such as volunteerism, teamwork, and problem solving.
  • Expanding the First Lady’s Hope for Healing website to enhance the ability to connect Floridians in need of mental wellbeing and substance abuse services with local providers.
  • Implementing Zero Suicide at the Department of Children and Families and through Managing Entities.
  • Releasing social media messaging designed to promote suicide prevention and mental wellness.
  • Teaching preventative instruction of child sexual abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking within K-12 public school mandatory required comprehensive health education curriculum.

Preliminary data for the state shows that 3,113 Floridians died by suicide in 2020, an estimated 10.1% decrease from 2019.

“I believe this decrease is a testament to the partnership and the prevention efforts that the Council has brought forth under the Governor and First Lady’s leadership,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “While we are trending in the right direction, we must keep working together to have a positive impact in our state. The diversity of the Coordinating Council shows that everyone can play a part in connecting Floridians with behavioral health resources to prevent suicide.”

In Florida, the Office of Suicide Prevention is housed under the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The office is responsible for managing the Florida Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council, a group comprised of 31 voting members representing families, law enforcement, health care workers, children, veterans, and more. The group meets quarterly to discuss areas of focus, prevention initiatives, new research, and outreach opportunities. The next meeting of the Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council is September 24th in Tallahassee.

Crisis supports for individuals experiencing thoughts of suicide or other behavioral health needs can be accessed by calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24/7, at 1-800-273-8255; turning to local 2-1-1 providers, which offer confidential conversations to access help; and starting a conversation through the Crisis Text Line, available by texting HOME to 74741.

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