Sheriff's video sparks suicide discussion on social media

The sheriff's message puts a light on how the topic of suicide has become more open thanks to social media.

The Marion County Sheriff got choked up on Facebook last night as he revealed  one of his deputies took his own life.

Sheriff Billy Woods' video has been seen more than 500,000 times, and there are thousands of comments talking about the subject of suicide.

The response shows how the once-taboo discussion subject of suicide has become more open, thanks to social media.

Brent Krause's brother Matt struggled with depression.

"Back in 2010, we lost my little brother to suicide while he was living in Manhattan,"  Krause said.

"Prior to my brother I didn't know anybody that took their own life and even if i did i never heard about it."  he said. "It's not this taboo subject that everyone's afraid to talk about anymore. It should be something that people talk about and speak about and get more awareness out there. a lot of people need help.

"I think social media can be a great asset."

The sheriff's video drew thousands of comments, one saying they knew a sergeant who committed suicide in 2006. Another said: "i too lost my best friend and brother in law in law enforcement to suicide just over a year ago. please get help if you need it."

Clara Reynolds, CEO of Crisis Center Tampa Bay, says social media is helping people open up about a tough topic.

"What I'm hopeful (is) it'll inspire others to think maybe this barrier has been broken, maybe this stigma has finally stopped ... I think now because of social media and the way kids use it. even folks in my generation."

She says many still view suicide as a moral failiing, something that can be easily fixed.

"Is it 100 percent perfect? No. Is any tool perfect 100 percent?  No, but from our vantage point we feel social media is a tool and when it's used correctly it can be beneficial."

Police suicide prevention program "The Badge of Life" says the average is about 130 police suicides per year. Last year there were 108.

To put that into perspective, more officers die of suicide than from gunfire and traffic accidents combined. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide and need help, call 211. 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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