Alpert JFS is devoted to destigmatizing mental illness, addiction and suicide, and debunking myths attached to those with mental health challenges, so those affected can feel more comfortable seeking help and support.
This month, National Suicide Prevention Month, the agency is joining mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies and community members across the country, to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness, and connect people with suicidal thoughts to treatment services.
Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, and every year thousands of people die by suicide. Alpert JFS works every day to help shed light on this taboo topic, through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a national program to teach the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance use. The evidence-based educational program for adults at least 18 years old teaches people how to identify, understand, and respond to the signs and symptoms of those developing a mental illness or in crisis. It also provides community members with resources to discuss suicide prevention and substance use awareness. Certified Mental First Aiders are able to assess situations, offer nonjudgmental support, reassure, and give hope, while helping the person get the appropriate professional assistance.
It is important that individuals, and their friends and family have access to resources to discuss suicide prevention. According to the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), suicide is the #2 leading cause of death of people 10-34 years, and the 4th leading cause of death for people 35-54 years.
”Sometimes just asking someone if they are okay or if they are thinking about suicide can save a life,” said Director of Mental Health First Aid Community Outreach and Mental Health First aid Coalition of Palm Beach County Cindy Wides. “People who initiate a conversation, encourage a healthy activity, or offer extra support to those who may be struggling, are homegrown heroes. Mental Health First Aid teaches us that if you suspect someone is considering suicide, you must ask them directly, allowing them to share their thoughts.”
MHFA is funded by Palm Health Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, and United Way – Town of Palm Beach United Way.
To learn how you can be a lifeline to friends, family members, colleagues, and others in the community of the Greater Palm Beaches, visit https://www.alpertjfs.org/mhfa/ , or contact Cindy Wides at 561-238-0251 or email [email protected] to learn more about participating in a virtual Mental Health First Aid course.