Local advocates speak out after three recent suicides


Three recent high-profile suicides has once again brought mental health into the forefront of conversation. All three had been connected to mass shootings.

Local advocates speak out about the issue. They say events like the recent New Zealand mosque attacks could trigger delayed reactions.

The period after a traumatic event is focused on helping the victims, but many times, there are long-term psychological impacts.

In the last week, two Parkland, Florida shooting survivors died by suicide about a year after the tragedy.

“Where maybe something might come up a month later, or a couple months later and then we start seeing things,” Shatter Our Silence Founder Kevin Polky said. “I’ve already written it off as they’re good, they didn’t show any signs or symptoms.”

Kevin Polky is the founder of Shatter our Silence. The non-profit educates on the factors that lead to suicide in young adults.

He says it’s most important to be on alert for a delayed reaction.

“As time goes on, things start stabilizing,” Polky said. They look like they’re doing okay and we just start moving on with other things in life.”

Experts say post traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt can both weigh heavily on someone dealing with a difficult event.

“Or happen not to be at school that day, or happen not to be in the house the day the event happened, all those are things that maybe playing a part of why a person may get stuck in that trauma,” Polky said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a list of warning signs to help identify if a loved one is at risk.

Is there an isolation? A recklessness in behavior? Is there an increase in agitation? Is it different than their normal baseline of how they are?” Polky said.

Polky says suicide can be prevented with counseling, eating healthier, sleeping and exercise.

“Keep calling, keep trying to connect, there will be somebody you can connect with, there is hope out there,” Polky said.

If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, there is help. Call 1-800-2-7-3-8-2-5-5.

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