BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The 2018 suicide numbers for the state of Florida have been released, showing two panhandle counties are in the top 10.
The list is based on the county’s population size so while a bigger county may have more suicides, it’s a smaller percentage of their population.
Bay County had 51 suicides in 2018 and putting the county as number 10.
Washington County is number two on the list with nine suicides.
“The suicide rate has been going up in our area for some time now, pretty steadily,” said Tricia Pierce, Community Relations Specialist of Life Management Center.
The facility opened the services they could just weeks after Hurricane Michael and is now fully functioning.
“We have basic counseling, psychiatric care, we have social workers on staff, we have all type of different services and specialized programs that actually aren’t offered in any other facility in our area,” Pierce said.
When it comes to the impact of the storm, Pierce says the traffic in their facility hasn’t increased but that could be due to multiple reasons like the drop in population.
“We also know people are focused on other things right now, they’re focused on getting a roof on their house. They’re focused on getting things from insurance companies. All the different things people are dealing with because of the hurricane,” Pierce said.
She says this is keeping people from focusing on getting any type of health services but staying healthy requires each person to be self-aware.
“One of the things we’ve been saying is, ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ and we’ve all gone through some significant problems in the last year, there’s not a single person in our community that hasn’t been affected by Hurricane Michael,” Pierce said.
Pierce says the main thing to know is, no one should feel ashamed or embarrassed if they’re feeling any type of depression, anxiety or sadness from Hurricane Michael.
If you’re in need of mental health help at any time of day, you can call their 24/7 Crisis Line at 850-522-4485.
Life Management Center serves all six counties in the 14th Judicial Circuit, including Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Holmes, and Washington counties.
Here’s a look at what other counties in the panhandle saw in 2018 for completed suicides.
Liberty County: 2
Okaloosa County: 43
Santa Rosa County: 38
Jackson County: 11
Gadsden County: 7
Escambia County: 50
Gulf County: 3
Calhoun County: 2
Walton County: 10
Holmes County: 3
Franklin County: 2
Learn more about Life Management Center and the services they offer here.
To see what other mental health services are available throughout the panhandle, click here.