ECCAC monthly focus on prevention programs

Special to Gannett
ECCAC focuses on youth suicide prevention in September.

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS  —  Along with providing many services to children who have experienced abuse, abandonment or neglect, the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) also has significant prevention programs in place.

“We have been focusing on creating awareness for monthly prevention programs this past year," said Jasie Landeros, who heads up the prevention department as ECCAC’s Outreach Program manager. "In September, our focus will be on calling attention to suicide prevention for children, teens and young adults. It coincides with National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.”

It is a proven fact that depression, anxiety, stress and suicidal thoughts are on the increase. Unfortunately, suicide is the second leading cause of death for middle and high school youth, ages 12 to 18.

The Jason Foundation Inc. is dedicated to the prevention of the “Silent Epidemic” of youth suicide. They have compiled key facts related to suicide in younger people:

• 4 out of 5 teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.

• Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide attempts, which may manifest in the following ways: Declining grades and school performance; lack of interest in activities once enjoyed; withdrawal from family, friends, and relationships; talking a lot about death and suicide (even jokingly); previous suicide attempts; regularly self-harming; doing dangerous/life threatening things.

It is especially important for parents, educators, youth workers and coaches to be perceptive. Self-care and mental health awareness are critical for children and youth. ECCAC will be providing additional data and information via their website and social media.

ECCAC has been in operation for over 20 years with centers in Niceville and DeFuniak Springs. They have provided over 150,000 services at no cost for children to include mental health therapy, crisis intervention, referrals to other community providers, interviews and medicals to more than 14,000 children and their families.

For further information, visit www.eccac.org or email or call Jasie Landeros at Jasie@eccac.org or 8i50-833-9237, ext. 267. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.