Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health News Florida
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.

Raising Awareness About Suicide Prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and more than 48,000 people in the country died by suicide in 2018.

WGCU's Andrea Perdomo spoke with Ariella VanHara. She is director of acute care services for , the Collier-based nonprofit behavioral and mental health service provider.

VanHara discussed common misconceptions about suicide and offered tips for helping loved ones who may be having a hard time with their thoughts and feelings.

The is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

Here is a transcript of Andrea Perdomo and Ariella VanHara's conversation:

Perdomo:

Is there a particular age group that is more susceptible to thoughts of suicide, or is that something that can happen to anyone at any age?

VanHara:

So it can happen to anyone at any age. Typically, the high risk age group is Caucasian, middle-aged males and the elderly. While females do have more attempts, males are more high risk for completing suicide. There is an increase in our children's services where we have seen an increase in suicidal thoughts and depression. We've also seen an increase in adult services for a variety of reasons, such as depression, suicidal ideation and then psychosis.

Perdomo:

So what is it about that particular age group, the older population and the middle-aged males, that professionals are thinking might make them more susceptible to these thoughts and these actions?

VanHara:

Well, the fact about it being males goes along with the idea that while females have more attempts, males are more high risk of completing suicide. Middle-aged and elderly has to do with mostly stage of life. Elderly, a lot of friends and social circles are diminishing because their friends maybe have health complications or even just dying from older age. So that can be a little bit depressing. And in middle age, there tends to be a lot of, you're coming to the end of your working career and there's a huge change of life, and those can be some risk factors that contribute to that.

Perdomo:

What are some common misconceptions that people might have about suicide?

VanHara:

Some of the misconceptions are about if you talk or ask about suicide, you're putting the idea in someone's head, and that's definitely not true and can lead to direct conversation. Ask someone if they're having thoughts to help them open up. So you can definitely ask someone if they're having thoughts of suicide without putting the idea in their head.

Perdomo:

Do you have any tips for people who might be concerned about a loved one?

VanHara:

Yeah. I would look out for warning signs. Some of those things could be changes in mood, whether it be depression or irritability, crying spells, withdrawing from people or activities, either changes in appetite or sleep, that can be an increase or decrease, either one of those whatever is not normal for that person, or even changes in appearance and talking to them and find out what's going on. Even something as casual as you know, "Hey, I've noticed you are no longer interested in X,Y,Z or that you seem down, is everything okay?" To kind of bring on awareness that you've noticed that there's a change going on within them and really being interested in what that change is about to spark the conversation.

Perdomo:

What tips do you have for people who might be struggling with their feelings and thoughts?

VanHara:

My tip would be to reach out and talk to someone, whether that be a friend, family member, coworker, or professional, there's no harm in talking to someone, and the earlier that you do, the better.

Perdomo:

What do initiatives like suicide prevention awareness month hope to achieve?

VanHara:

So I hope that can be aware of warning signs and resources available to be able to seek help if needed. I also hope that the stigma is decreased and that people can feel comfortable reaching out for assistance and seeking services to help better themselves, and becoming more familiar with the resources that are available. Some of those resources, there's hotlines and centers that are available, including us, David Lawrence Centers or even the National Suicide Hotline.

Perdomo:

Is there anything that you would like to share about suicide or suicide prevention awareness that I haven't asked?

VanHara:

No, I would just say, like I said, definitely talk to somebody, look at resources. There's no harm in just talking to somebody or exploring services or even calling a hotline or even us at David Lawrence Centers, we have a crisis line that there's someone answers 24/7, so you can always reach somebody if needed. There's always someone available.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit .

/