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Port Charlotte's Purple Packets provide resources to suicide survivors

What many people may not know is that Port Charlotte had an alarming suicide rate a couple years back. Their prior rates surpassed the state of Florida’s at about 21 (suicides per 100,000) versus 14.3.

Purple packet from Charlotte Behavioral Health Care

Port Charlotte saw these rates and implemented a program called Signs of Suicide (SOS). It targets 7th and 8th graders, and informs them about the dangers of bullying, drugs, and how those negative factors can encourage people to view suicide as an option. We talked to them in 2017 and got some pretty good information .

SOS is a suicide prevention program, but what happens if someone unfortunately completes suicide? What programs are in place? Port Charlotte Behavioral saw this need as well, and implemented what they call a Purple Packet. It’s a packet that contains information and resources to survivors of suicide – those left behind after a person completes suicide (i.e. mom, dad, children, cousins). It is distributed through first responders, who are trained on identifying the best practices during suicide response.
Contents from the packet

They based the packet off of a purple packet that was being given out in Georgia, and tailored it to the Port Charlotte community.

It contains brochures, a tissue (to let survivors know it’s always ok to cry), a financial packet, and even a condolence not from those at Port Charlotte Behavioral.

The post-vention program was developed by Kimberly Sanderson. She’s a survivor of suicide, as well as a therapist for Charlotte Behavioral Health Care. She gives survivors an intimate connection because she can relate first hand to their experiences.

“We give [survivors] five no-cost sessions,” Kimberly told us. “And that’s scheduled with me. So they can honestly have some one sit across the table and say, ‘I know.”

In the years that they have implemented this packet, they have seen change. Kimberly says, the rate has gone down from the 21 to 16.2. That number went down from 38 suicides to 26.

“It’s not just the purple packet. I want to stress this is a unified effort through prevention, intervention and post-vention.”

This effort is being so recognized that Monroe and Broward County asked for their help to implement purple packets in their regions.

Suicide is a tough topic. However, Charlotte Behavioral is making an effort to put a dent in the number of suicides that occur in their county, and the numbers back them up.

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