Florida Special Populations
Caregivers/ persons with disabilities
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities State Office began collaborating with the Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council in 2019 to focus on suicide prevention. Although caregivers and persons with disabilities are not high-risk populations nationally, it is important for Florida to focus on these populations due to suicide-related risks associated with both caregiving and poor health. Since March 2017, there have been 28 recorded suicide attempts from caregivers of persons with disabilities. However, the data for this population is limited and efforts to improve data collection are ongoing.
First responders and law enforcement are repeatedly exposed to occupational trauma and stress. Although Florida-specific suicide data is unavailable for first responders and law enforcement, among known data, 40 first responders/law enforcement officers lost their lives to suicide from 2016 to 2019.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published job factors that can contribute to individuals being at high-risk in some occupations. These factors include low job security, low pay, and job stress. Other factors include gender, socioeconomic status, economic climate, physical nature of the work, and societal norms. In addition to law enforcement and first responders, workers in occupations such as construction, mining/oil, and agriculture should also be considered as special populations to focus suicide prevention efforts in Florida.
Most research conducted on suicide post-disaster finds no increases in suicide rates immediately after disasters. However, suicidal ideations, plans, and attempts are likely to emerge several months after a disaster.
The DOH is responding to the potential link between post-disaster and suicide risk through use of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER). The primary goals of CASPER are to rapidly obtain information about the needs of an affected community, and to assess changes in needs during the response or recovery period.
The Florida State University Department of Psychology screened students in introductory to psychology courses at the beginning of the 2020 Spring semester. Re-administered questions following implemented Coronavirus guidelines indicated student’s severity of suicidal ideation was related to psychological and behavioral impacts of Coronavirus, including increased loneliness due to social distancing. Additional screenings are planned to assess impacts over time.6
In 2019, there were 26 deaths by suicide for youth ages 10-14 and 102 for ages 15-19. According to the 2017 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 41.1 percent of high school females report feelings of sadness or hopelessness.14 These youth are more likely to think about attempting suicide and make a plan. In Florida, high school females are more likely to attempt suicide and high school males are more likely to die by suicide.