MILTON — September is Suicide Prevention Month. Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds. Every life that ends in suicide represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend, or colleague.

For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behavior. Suicidal behavior includes suicide and encompasses suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide.

Suicide is the result of a convergence of genetic, psychological, social, cultural and other risk factors, sometimes combined with experiences of trauma and loss. People who take their own lives represent a heterogeneous group, with unique, complex and multifaceted causal influences preceding their final act. This presents challenges for suicide prevention experts; these challenges can be overcome by adopting a multilevel and cohesive approach to suicide prevention.

“Preventing suicide is often possible and everyone is a key player in its prevention,” said Matt Dobson, public health services manager for the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County (DOH-Santa Rosa).

“It’s important to raise awareness about the issue of suicide," he added. "Talking about it is never easy, but it’s very important to do it right, because suicide is a public health issue. The 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment revealed that mental health, along with drug use, diabetes, and infant health, were the top health priorities for Santa Rosa County. So, we are addressing mental health in the next CHIP for Santa Rosa.”

CHIP is an acronym for Community Health Improvement Plan. It addresses the top health concerns that affect the residents of Santa Rosa County. The CHIP will focus on the top health concerns for the county over the next three years by forming goals, strategies and tactics to improve the overall health of the county. Partnerships with DOH-Santa Rosa will be instrumental in the success of the strategies.

World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept. 10. It’s a time to remember those affected by suicide, to raise awareness, and to focus efforts on directing treatment to those who need it most.

If you need help or know of someone who does, call the SUICIDE Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text “GULF” to 741741; the Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7, confidential crisis support by text.