Heart of Florida United Way working to combat rise in suicides

ORLANDO, Fla. — National Suicide Prevention Month is a time to remember the lives lost to suicide, the millions of people who have struggled with thoughts of suicide, and to acknowledge those who’ve been impacted. Here in Central Florida, there is help if you need it.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports suicide numbers are on the rise across the country, and across the state of Florida too.

Last year, Florida saw the highest suicide rate since 2020. The CDC reports more than 3,400 people took their own lives.

Here in Central Florida, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is here to help prevent those numbers from rising.

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“We always assess for safety, we listen, we try to guide through whatever their needs are,” Catherine Rae, with the Heart of Florida United Way, said. “Try to help them connect with available services in their community.

A connection to services like counseling, behavioral health, or wellness assistance is something Rae advocates for the funding of every day.

She tells us, there are a lot of people locally who need that help.

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In July of this year, the 988 Lifeline answered 644 calls between Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.

That’s more than 20 calls a day.

In the tri-county area from July 16, 2022, to June 30, 2023, it answered 9,485 calls on the 988 Lifeline.

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That’s a more than 30% increase from the previous fiscal year.

The 988 hotline is available 24/7, 365 days a year. You can dial it and call on your phone, or you can send that hotline a text.

“I think it’s just important people realize there is help out there just a phone call away,” Rae said.

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