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Florida Officials Meet To Discuss Suicide Prevention Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

A woman rests her head on the shoulders of what looks to be a young man.
Külli Kittus
Members of Florida's Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council met today to discuss recommendations to include in its 2020 annual report.

Members of the state's Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council say the pandemic will likely increase how many people will die this year. The group is drafting recommendations to help people in crisis.

In 2018, more than 3,000 Floridians died by suicide. Now, in 2020, that number is more than 1,000 so far. Jane Bennett, with the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, is recommending the state use technology to reach people who might need help. Bennett says there needs to be a better effort to educate people on how to access mental health services.

"I know a lot of people that I've been coming across have said that they've been looking on YouTube for resources and explanation of what's the process," Bennett says.

Bennett sits on Florida's Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council. Another member is the Department of Children and Families' Rodney Moore. He says people shouldn't have to jump through hoops to find help.

"You know people are fearful. Some people are hopeless because they lost jobs, they've lost the ability to support their families. We need to develop opportunities to make our services more readily available," Moore says.

The question of how to do that wasn't immediately answered. The Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council has not yet released any official recommendations. The link to the council's report from last year can be found here.

Corrected: June 19, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
The original version of this article referred to Rodney Moore as the Secretary for the Department of Children and Families, which is incorrect and changes have been made to fix that.
Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.