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Suicides Rise

The consequences of a world in turmoil resulted in the death of two Florida deputies this week when they took their own lives.

Deputy Clayton Osteen and Deputy Victoria Pacheco of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Department within days of each other made the decision to end their pain and suffering. The reason behind their decision is unknown, but I'm certain hopelessness played a large part of their decision.

Statistics reveal that on average, 132 Americans die by suicide each day with 1.4 million Americans attempting suicide during 2020. This report reveals that 90% of those who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. To learn more about their findings go to:

Sadly, I believe those statistics are not an accurate representation of the facts as many more have died by "unknown" causes, drug overdose that has no evidence of intent, or many who were not counted as suicide because they tested positive for Covid and so were counted as Covid-related deaths. Often, statistics are accumulated by known reporting from law enforcement or medical facilities where "cause of death" is recorded.

I recall learning decades ago that law enforcement, and first responders overall, have a higher likelihood of death from suicide than from a job-related death. Many who enter retirement following a long career of service, and this includes military personnel as well, leave that job that gave them a purpose for a life with no purpose. They find themselves not living, but merely existing without any idea what to do. Eventually, some will see no reason to live and will take their own lives to escape the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. I see this often in my practice where we serve hundreds of military personnel each week. I have been proud of our 8-year record where not one person has taken their own life while they were receiving our mental health services. I believe the number of suicides can be decreased by increasing access to mental health services, but even more than that, recognizing when someone has reached that point of no return and someone took action. When someone shares with you they are contemplating suicide, take their words seriously. Don't argue with them. Don't invalidate, ignore, or reject their feelings. When they ask for help, or even if they don't, get help to them. If you suspect someone is considering taking their life, ignoring the threat only fosters more hopelessness.

If you know someone who is contemplating suicide, please get them mental health services right away. You could be saving their life.


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