Natalie Kelly: Thinking about suicide? Help is available

Woman giving hand to depressed man against dark background. Suic
Sometimes in a time of crisis, the first thing a person needs is a compassionate person to talk to.

There are on average 130 suicides per day in the United States. According to the CDC, suicide was the twelfth leading cause of death in the United States in 2020, claiming more than 45,900 lives. An estimated 1.2 million people attempted suicide in 2020. Suicide was the second leading cause of death in children ages 10-14 and young adults ages 24-34.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and help is available.

In addition to mental health issues and substance use disorders that may contribute to suicidal ideation, no one has escaped the added stresses of pandemic life, from increased anxiety to social isolation.

Floridians have lost their lives — or the lives of a loved one — to suicide. In 2020, the suicide rate in Florida was 13.1 per 100,000 people. Nationally, our nation saw nearly two times as many deaths by suicide than homicide.

Help is available, and suicide is preventable.

Recently, the nation transitioned to a new Suicide Prevention Hotline that’s easy to remember — 9-8-8. The lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or distress.

Sometimes having someone available to talk to you when you’re in need can be the start of rebirth and put you on the path to recovery. The first call may be the hardest, but it very well could be the most important call you make — and change the course of your life.

In addition to the crisis line, there are numerous community resources available to help those struggling with mental health and substance use disorder issues.

Florida’s seven local Managing Entities work with a network of over 300 behavioral health care providers who deliver services to approximately 300,000 of Florida’s most vulnerable residents, including children, expectant mothers, veterans, and the chronically homeless.

Behavioral health providers within the network provide, among other services, crisis stabilization, care coordination, which means that a person’s diverse needs are all coordinated so they can get all the services and treatment they need to live their healthiest lives.


Providers meet patients’ diverse needs with “wraparound services” that not only address mental health issues and substance abuse, but also assist with housing, transportation, and employment.

This Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, let’s spread the word that help is available. Sometimes in a time of crisis, the first thing a person needs is a compassionate person to talk to.


Natalie K. Kelly is CEO of the Florida Association of Managing Entities.

Guest Author


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