Tag Archives: suicide

Without Notice

suicideToday, September 10, is annual World Suicide Prevention Day. Health organizations around the world use this event as an opportunity to promote awareness of this preventable cause of death. In 2013, there were almost 3,000 suicides in Florida and almost 10,000 hospitalizations for non-fatal self-inflicted injuries. Why does this happen so often close to home? 

Without notice, many of our loved ones suffer from and we may not know how to cope with them. If we educate each other about the warning signs, we can try to help save lives in the future.

Here are some frequent warning signs:

  • Talking about hurting themselves.
  • Looking for ways to harm themselves.
  • Having an uncharacteristic focus on death, dying or violence. Talking or writing about death
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, or self-hatred.
  • Self-destructive behaviors – such as increased substance use.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or a loss purpose.
  • Getting affairs in order – saying goodbye.
  • Anxiety or sleeping problems. 

Suicide prevention is crucial in every age group, but especially in adolescents. This is the third leading cause of death in young people aged 15-24. School interventions, bullying prevention, limiting access to lethal means, screening for behavioral health issues, teaching intervention skills and promoting positive coping skills are all efforts being implemented in Florida schools, doctors’ offices and community organizations.

Help is available. If you or your loved ones have concerns, visit or contact these resources:

The Sound of Her Breath

Guest post by a mother who’s daughter is suicidal. 

shutterstock_128576690_smallWhen she was a baby I would sneak in her room to listen to her breath. Although I tried not to obsessively worry about SIDS, I took comfort in the sound of her breath. Sixteen years later I am once again sneaking in her room, listening to her breathing and thanking God that she is still with us. The difference is that an hour later I will return, listen again and thank God again and I will repeat this throughout the night.

It sounds obsessive but we are struggling. Our daughter is suicidal. Even writing those words seems unreal. This cannot be happening. Not to us. Not her.

But it is real. Last year one of the most popular girls in her class committed suicide. She took her life in the room she shared with her younger sister who found her only minutes too late. When this happened we asked the inevitable, “How did her parents not know?”

Now we understand. They did know. They knew she was struggling. They knew she was in pain. And they had gotten her help. For a few years they shuttled her back and forth to inpatient treatment, day hospital care, therapists and psychiatrists. At each sign of trouble they were on top of it and still she died. Still, they lost their little girl.

Her story is not the only story like this. Hers is not even the only story in our community. Just last month there was another suicide in our own neighborhood, three months before that there was another one just down the road. I know we are not alone in our struggle but it doesn’t matter.

Being in this position, watching our child suffer is impossibly hard. We are doing everything we can to help. People keep telling us that. It is their way of comforting us, but what do I hear?

I hear, “If she does kill herself you need to remember, you have done everything you could.”

I hear that it is hopeless. I hear that I am powerless. And I sink. Isn’t that a horrible thing? I sink. Just when my daughter needs my strength and support I am finding myself falling into my own abyss. I am lost and I don’t know how to pull myself out. I want to help her and I can’t.

Since she was a baby I have been there for her. For every boo-boo, cold, fever and heartbreak I have comforted her. But right now I am not a comfort. Right now, nothing I do is helping and I find myself wondering how much of what I say and do is hurting.

I have no answers. So right now, tonight, the best I can do is sneak in her room. Stand beside her bed and listen to her breath. The best I can do is to be thankful that she is still with us.

If your child (or you, or a family member or friend) is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help. Their phone number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They will connect you to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A mother and daughter’s goal: Recovery

Guest blog post by Janet Pereyra, executive director of the Federation of Families, Miami-Dade Chapter, parent-run organization supporting family-run programs to meet the needs of children and youth with emotional, behavioral or mental disorders. The Federation is a valued DCF partner.

She saw the cuts on her daughter’s arms, the blood. It broke her heart to see her in so much pain, physically but especially mentally. The mother was desperately trying to help her daughter stop cutting herself. They both needed help, but the mother didn’t know where to turn.

They were both in rough shape when they came to us, just feeling us out to see if we could help them in any way. We stepped in and let them know that they are not alone. Sometimes it is comforting to know that you aren’t the only ones going through a crisis. We introduced them to other families, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, siblings, friends. The mother could talk with other mothers and release the emotions of confusion, helplessness, frustration. And know that they now have the tools for recovery.

The daughter got involved in Youth Move, a choir that brings kids of all mental health backgrounds together to sing. She had trouble finding transportation to choir practice, so I picked her up every week to take her. She didn’t know if she could sing at first, but ended up being a natural prodigy and sang at a large conference later that year.

The mother participated in our activities on a regular basis. One of the things we did was to create a fotonovela in English and Spanish about a fictional family with a son who is bipolar. Understand that in the Hispanic culture, mental illness is often taboo, which means people are not encouraged to get help. The effects of this mindset are often tragic and fatal. To create the book, family members each wrote and drew a part of the book, detailing the life of the characters and how they addressed bipolar illness. The book has been printed and will be distributed at events to spread awareness.

Mother and daughter are now doing much better. They know how to communicate with and understand each other better. There have been and will be relapses, but they now have a huge support system that will be with them during the good times and when things get rough.

The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. No matter what you are going through with a mental illness, you are not alone. Please seek out help in your community. DCF has great online resources that allow you to search for help at places in your area. Please take a look and don’t try to fight mental illness on your own. There are so many resources available for individuals and families.