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Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Staggering Statistics In Florida On World Suicide Prevention Day

The AFSP says more than four times as many people died by suicide in Florida in 2018 than in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.
The AFSP says more than four times as many people died by suicide in Florida in 2018 than in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.

This is World Suicide Prevention Day - a day to remember those lost to suicide and raise awareness of resources available to Floridians who may need support.

One person dies by suicide every two hours in Florida on average, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Florida overall. It’s the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24, and second leading cause for people ages 25-34.

“These staggering statistics are extremely alarming and heart-breaking,” says Melanie Brown-Woofter, President and CEO of the Florida Behavioral Health Association. “While all of September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, today is World Suicide Prevention Day, which allows us to shed light on treatment services and care available for those who have been impacted by suicide or are struggling with suicidal thoughts.”

A bill passed during the last legislative session and signed by the governor added duties for the Statewide Office for Suicide Prevention. It made changes to policies relating to mental health and substance abuse services, and the timing is critical.

A survey by the Centers for Disease Control found more than 4 in 10 Americans are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the pandemic.

“Often times, it is difficult for people who suffer from depression and anxiety to reach out for help. It is important, especially during times of social-distancing, that we communicate with our friends and make sure they are OK,” Brown-Woofter said.

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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