Published On: Sun, Sep 9th, 2018

Suicide Prevention Month Focuses Attention on Helping Those in Need

By: Robert S Weinroth

Suicide – it’s not generally the topic of casual conversation at a social gathering or around the dinner table – that is, unless its impact has been felt close to home!

The fact is, suicide rates continue to rise and suicide affects our nation’s active-duty service members and members of the National Guard and Reserve. The VA reports a total of 20.6 suicides every day. Of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty service members, guardsmen and reservists. That amounts to 6,132 veterans and 1,387 service members who die by suicide each year.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month with next week being designated, Florida Veteran Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength around a difficult topic.

The truth is, we can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide, because just one conversation can change a life.

Each of us has a responsibility to address this devastating public health crisis by improving mental health services and awareness of suicide prevention programs.

#BeThe1To is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s message for National Suicide Prevention Month and beyond to help spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide.

The Lifeline network and its partners are working to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help and give hope. Locally, Boca’s Raton’s Promise, under the leadership of its co-founder and executive director, Rita Thrasher, has been focusing on Breaking The Silence and of removing the stigma of mental illness and starting community conversations.

Thrasher has focused attention on mental health priorities by establishing outreach to cities and County stakeholders. In partnership with Broken Sound Club, Boca Raton’s Promise recently held the first of five interactive eight-hour Mental Health First Aid training sessions where participants received training in how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

Since 2014, Ed Frontera and Cindy Wides, two of 24 certified trainers in Palm Beach County, have trained over 4300 people. Thrasher’s mission is to work with community leaders to identify and designate additional personnel to become MHFA-trained.

The American Association of Suicidology has published a list of Suicide Warning Signs an easy-to-remember mnemonic: (IS PATH WARM):

  • Suicidal ideation, suicidal thoughts.
  • Increased Substance (alcohol or drug) use
  • No reason for living; no sense of Purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Feeling Trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Rage, uncontrolled Anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting Reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic Mood changes

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, you can find help here in Palm Beach County at the 211 Help Line which can be reached by Calling 2-1-1 or (561) 383-1112 or (866) 882-2991. The 211 Helpline can also be reached by Texting, Online Chat, or by Email. To Text: text your zip code to 898211

The trained specialists at the 211 Crisis Call Center are required to go through an extensive 100-hour training before they take their first call. The 211 Crisis Call Center, located in Lantana, answers an average 300 calls a day.

Historically, when a high-profile person dies by suicide, the “celebrity-suicide effect” often leads to copycat deaths. In the four months after Robin William’s took his life in 2014, there was a 10 percent increase (2,000 additional suicides)!

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline gives these suggestions if a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide:

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, like weapons or pills.
  • Get help from people or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

It can be scary when a friend or loved one is thinking about suicide. It’s hard to know how a suicidal crisis feels and how to act.

Call the 211 Helpline or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.TALK (8255) at any time for help if a friend is struggling.

To learn more about the issue of Veteran suicide as well as VA mental health resources, please visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov, where you’ll find the latest national and state-level research.

Veterans and their loved ones also can visit MakeTheConnection.net to explore information on mental health issues and hear stories from Veterans who have faced challenges like theirs, including posttraumatic stress disorder, substance use problems, transitioning from service, and more.

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 26 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman and former member of the City Council where he served for four years. Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. Weinroth, who is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts and New Jersey, served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services INC (FREEDOMED®), an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth was elected president of two homeowners associations (Boca Falls HOA and Briarcliff at Woodfield Country Club HOA) and has served as a Board member of the Bay Winds HOA. He was also appointed to serve on the Safety & Security Committee at Woodfield Country Club HOA, its finance committee and the Club by-laws, long-range planning and finance committees. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15 th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. Weinroth has also served on the boards of two synagogues, most recently B’nai Torah Congregation where he served as Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee. He was elected to the School Advisory Councils for Waters Edge Elementary and Olympic Heights High School and the Donna Klein Jewish Academy board. In 2014 Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council where he served as CRA Vice- chair and Deputy Mayor during his tenure. He was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach transportation Planning Authority, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities.

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