Is Someone You Know a Suicide Risk?

Courtesy of Unslash
How to Identify If Someone Is at Risk of Suicide

Suicide affects everyone. It is not restricted to a specific demographic, race, gender, or age group. The pain and suffering it causes within communities are universal. It can be a difficult topic to discuss, but treating it as a taboo subject increases the stigma around it, and can prevent those with suicidal thoughts from seeking help. Building awareness and breaking down that stigma is a key factor in ensuring those who need help, get help.

It’s More Common than You Think

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, some statistics indicate suicide is a cause of death in the United States. Not only is it a routine occurrence, but there is also no single cause for suicide. Instead, there usually is a variety of contributing factors, such as combined stressors, health issues, and other problems creating a feeling of hopelessness and despair. The majority of attempts are conducted by people experiencing some form of depression or mental health disorder. For about every 25 attempts, there is a death.

Recognizing the Signs

Though it is difficult to recognize yourself as at-risk, it is possible to do so. If you have suicidal or harmful thoughts, have a sudden loss of interest in activities that used to bring you joy, you might be at risk. Other indicators include difficulty sleeping or eating, a sense of feeling trapped, hopeless, or without a reason to live. If any of those issues sound like your own personal struggle, it’s crucial to get help. You can contact a suicide hotline and talk to someone any time, day or night, at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). 

It’s necessary for friends, family members, and communities to recognize the signs someone is in trouble as well, and take action if so. If someone you know talks about wanting to die, talks about feeling hopeless or a lack of reason to live or assembles the means for death such as weapons or pills, they are at immediate risk.

Other serious risks include talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, being a burden to others, an increase of substance abuse, sudden mood swings, and sudden withdrawal from normal activities. 

What Can You Do?

If you suspect a loved one or someone you know is considering hurting themselves, it is important to approach them with love and keep an open mind. Experts recommend addressing your concerns directly.  Ask them if they are thinking of harming themselves, speaking gently and without judgment. Express your concern and assist them in seeking help. If you believe they are in immediate danger, stay with them, remove any harmful objects, and call 911.

Another way you can assist is to help your friend or loved one determine if psychological evaluations or depression screenings are covered by their insurance policy. For example, if your loved one is a senior enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program, they have access to one free depression screening every year. Medicare also covers certain counseling programs, which can be benefits for seniors who are struggling with the symptoms of depression.

The Role of Alcohol and Substance Abuse

According to Psychology Today, those with substance abuse are six times more likely to commit suicide. The rate of depression, the most common factor in suicides, is two to four times higher among addicts. Many people turn to alcohol and substance abuse to help cope with depression. In others, the abuse may be what triggers the depression. Drugs and alcohol can create a false illusion of help, while actually creating more problems that can deepen someone’s mental health issue, thus driving them closer to suicide.

Accepting Treatment

No one should be ashamed of seeking help. Treatment programs typically require people to recognize they cannot recover alone. The first step toward recovery is admitting oneself into the program. Once there, those in treatment receive around-the-clock treatment. Patients receive multilayered support and treatment, including isolation and protection, guidance and therapy for their mental health needs, and group meetings to share their experiences.

Suicide is preventable, and it’s important to break down the stigma surrounding it. Learn to recognize the signs so you can take appropriate action when there is a problem. Do not hesitate to get the proper help for yourself or someone else.

Melissa Howard

Posted in Guest Author | Leave a comment

Slack tide comes to Broward Health

Broward Health will start 2019 with a political and practical slack tide, a short period that is completely unstressed.  This period occurs before the newly elected state and local political, and governmental forces are settled with their organizational transitions.  

I followed Broward Health’s activities generally since 1996 and intently since 2011.  Never during that time have I seen a time where there was a greater opportunity to affect the structure and future of the organization and its role in our Broward Community. 

The reason for my optimism comes in several parts.  First, the now six members of Broward Health’s Board of Commissioners, appear to be not only competent – but also independent from any of the county’s aging political infrastructure.  While the Board does not have significant public policy experience or even passing institutional knowledge of public entities – the core members are enthusiastic to learn and work well together.  More important, through my direct and significant conversations with the core of the Board, I can report that each one desires to serve the community in the best way they can irrespective of any external pressure.   In short, they take their oversight responsibilities on behalf of the Broward community seriously.

I continue to reference the core board, that is the four members who comprise the super-majority that voted to terminate Broward Health’s former counsel Lynn Barrett.  Simultaneous with the vote, the Governor appointed a new member who together with resigned commissioner Wellins opposed the termination.  Then the Governor appointed another member who was sworn in at the December 12th meeting.  These two newly appointed members of the Board are the new kids, and although I have not had the opportunity to visit with them yet, I believe they will fit in well and will add value to the strongest and most competent Board I can remember.

Second, it is this Board that at their December 12th meeting appointed Mr. Santorio and by extension his team, to lead the organization in effect wisely choosing stability over another period of transition for Broward Health.  Mr. Santorio leads a young team of unencumbered fearless, energetic, competent folks – almost all of them new to both the organization and to Broward.  This newness is both a strength and a weakness.  This management team will need to operate at a high and independent professional level within both an awareness and an appreciation for the community of Broward.  No small task, but I think they can do it – with our help.

From my conversations with the Board and the management team, I am convinced that there is no short-term possibility of diminishing Broward Health’s presence or footprint in Broward, in fact – just the opposite is true.  The entire strategic plan is to reinvest into the community by expanding Broward Health’s lines of service proximate to the community needs.  This strategic plan is contrary to the consistent past rumors of some well-connected political players efforts to monetize and sell off some selective district assets.

Third, with the political changing of the guard in Tallahassee coupled with the nearly completely appointed Broward Health Board (for the first time since 2015), there should be a period of much-needed stability on the Board.  But like all things political – this appointment stability is measured in months and not years.

Fourth, both the Board and senior management has come to understand compliance in the context of a modern hospital system.  Here compliance is as much about changing governmental regulation as it is about creating a foundation for the multi-faceted organizational relevance to the community, the district’s taxpayer owners, and the mission of public health.

It’s time to come back to Broward Health.  It’s time to engage in your hospital system.  Socrates once said that “it goes a long way to make a man trustworthy, to trust him.”  It’s time to trust Broward Health (but verify!).  During this slack tide – that’s what I’m going to do!

Because the slack tide does not last, my message to Broward Health for 2019 is the three do-it rules;  Do it, Do it right, Do it right now.  I’ll be paying attention!  Stay tuned.

Posted in Broward Health Board, Corporate Management | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ding, dong. Broward Health’s Wicked Witch is Dead – The Dan Lewis Report

Beginning just before the September 26 Board meeting, things began to change at Broward Health precipitated by the completely unfounded and unprecedented, personal attack against Commissioner Klein by corporate counsel Lynn Barrett.

Change, primarily because Chairperson Klein had the temerity to exercise his oversight responsibilities and question Corporate Counsel Barrett.

Click for the rest of the story …….)

Source: Ding, dong. Broward Health’s Wicked Witch is Dead – The Dan Lewis Report

Posted in Board Meetings, Corporate Management | Leave a comment

Broward Health – Vote for anyone but Rick Scott

How do you hold a Board, that is politically appointed by the Governor, accountable? Embarrassment without a credible threat of removal goes just so far for Board members who too often care little for their reputations.

Since 2012, I have attended most Broward Health Board meetings, and been writing articles published here and in my blogs and My writings have tried to expose, cajole, persuade, embarrass, and inform the Broward Health Board and senior leadership to do a better job. But each time, I come back to accountability.

Of course, the obvious answer is – you can’t hold the Board accountable, but you must hold the Governor accountable. Some would argue that Rick Scott did not create the problems at Broward Health, but I would counter that he certainly could address and correct them.

Instead, Rick Scott appointed inexperienced political hacks to the Broward Health Board. Then he suspended some members of the Board. Then he opened an Inspector General and an FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) investigation into Broward Health (both continuing today after close to three years). Then he refuses to appoint a full complement of Board members in effect crippling the ability of the Board to assemble a quorum for necessary meetings. For over a year, there were only four of seven board members. Now there are five of seven Board members appointed. Insult to injury against Broward Health, one of the recent Board appointments appears to have been selected specifically to protect Broward Health’s legal counsel who is responsible for hiring law firms that coincidentally support Rick Scott. Just recently, Foley & Lardner LLP, one of these law firms has even been rumored to be pushing Governor Scott to appoint another ‘friend’ to the Board to shore up the increasingly exposed and embattled Broward Health legal counsel’s ‘protection.’ Of course, it should come as no particular surprise that Foley & Lardner’s projected fees for the 2018-2019 fiscal year from Broward Health are ‘budgeted’ at over two million dollars. That’s a lot of candidate Rick Scott support!

Regardless of your political persuasion, if you care about the health of your family, your friends or yourself – and you live north of 595 in Broward County – you simply cannot give your vote to Rick Scott. He must be held accountable for the cavalier manner in which he has politicised and monetized his gubernatorial responsibilities to Broward Health and our community. There must be consequences for his irresponsibility that has risked the health of our families and our community just for his personal and political gain.

For Senate, vote for anyone but Rick Scott. Let that be a consequence of how he has screwed up Broward Health while Governor for thousands of your friends and neighbors.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

May 2018 Broward Health Marathon Board Meetings – The Dan Lewis Report

5/30/18 Broward Health Marathon Board Meetings A lot is going on at Broward Health.  Some of it is good.  Some of it, not so much.  Probably the biggest news for a public oversight perspective is the Governor’s latest appointment of Ray Berry.  While the Governor still needs to appoint two more commissioners to the Board, based on the performance of Commissioner Berry in his first public meetings at Broward Health – the Governor appears to have made a good choice…

See the full story with meeting videos & agenda packet excerpts: May 2018 Broward Health Marathon Board Meetings – The Dan Lewis Report

Posted in Board Meetings, Broward Health Board | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taxpayers’ tab for Broward Health’s lawyers (not counting defense of indicted leaders)

By Dan Christensen,

…The taxpayer’s tab for Broward Health’s lawyers this year is nearly $1 million more this year than in 2017, with annual legal expenses now budgeted at more than $6.1 million.

…A request for information about Broward Health’s in-house attorneys led the district to identify  seven in-house attorneys with base annual salaries ranging from $91,500 to Barrett’s $340,000. Barrett’s four top lieutenants, with titles of senior associate general counsel, draw base salaries of $239,000, $222,000, $175,000 and $165,000.

…The salaries of those attorneys, who also stand to collect a bonus of 17.5 percent of their salary this year if a recently proposed management incentive plan is implemented, total about $1.3 million, according to Broward Health’s information. But the 2018 budget for the general counsel’s office is $2,156,966, or more than 60 percent higher, indicating that salary hikes for in-house are in the works…

Read the complete story: Taxpayers’ tab for Broward Health’s lawyers (not counting defense of indicted leaders)

Posted in Corporate Management, Guest Author | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Broward Health goes dark; Gov. Scott clams up

By Dan Christensen, Florida – Things are getting stranger at Broward Health. On Friday, the taxpayer subsidized public hospital system began refusing to provide requested public information. On Monday, the governor’s office declined to explain why Rick Scott hasn’t suspended indicted district leaders.

…”The decision by Broward Health to no longer answer the public’s questions comes on the heels of news earlier this year that the district was demanding thousands of dollars in administrative and legal fees before allowing public access to records about its lawyers and legal costs.” …

Read the full story: Broward Health goes dark; Gov. Scott clams up

Posted in Corporate Management, Guest Author, Public Records | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Broward Health Fiasco: Nurses Get Peanuts, While Bureaucrats Get Huge Bonuses



…”A hospital system hemorrhaging millions will hand out bonuses to already well-paid administrators.”

“Nurses will get crumbs off the table….while they still deal with bedpans.”

“Broward Health commissioners need to be reminded of the system’s much-heralded mission statement:”

“Provide quality healthcare to the people we serve and support the needs of all physicians and employees.”

“That’s “all physicians and employees. ‘Not just high paid administrators.'”

Read the full story on BrowardBeat here

Posted in Broward Health Board, Corporate Management, Guest Author | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State Attorney Michael Satz attacked by Broward Health Attorneys in Public Meeting

December 20, 2017, Broward Health Regular Board Meeting
[Updated 12/21/17: 8:00a.m.]

In an otherwise non-descript regular meeting of the Broward Health Board of Commissioners, an orchestrated kumbaya for Broward Health’s Board with Broward Health’s outside counsels and a senior staff member allegedly representing the employees strangely began the usually silent public comments item at the start of the meeting.

Former Attorney General Bob Butterworth began the public comments by extolling the virtues of the Board, omitting the fact that he is on their payroll and likely being paid for his time. Bob has been my friend ever since he was appointed Mayor of Sunrise, then appointed Sheriff of Broward County, all prior to his election as Attorney General.  To be fair, some of his laudatory comments carry some truth, but not for all the board and certainly not for all of the indicted.  However, in fairness – he should have made it clear he was praising his bosses.

Next came Mr. Mitchell, another Broward Health outside counsel working with Butterworth who huffed and puffed about how unjust the Grand Jury was to his clients, I couldn’t help but think of Richard Gere singing Razzle- dazzle in the musical Chicago.,

Roxie, you got nothing to worry about.
It’s all a circus, kid. A three ring circus.
These trials- the whole world- all show business.
But kid, you’re working with a star, the biggest!
Give ’em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle ’em
Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give ’em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather ’em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

Seemingly to prove his point, he exclaimed in a disingenuous voice – that he had a witness that would vindicate the indicted and that Mike Satz knew about the witness and did not subpoena him to appear before the grand jury.   What injustice! Well, what he did not share with those assembled in the meeting was that the witness was indeed invited to appear before the grand jury but refused to do so without immunity.  The same was true for Bob Butterworth.

So it begs the question; why wouldn’t they appear without immunity?  Well, I think the question answers itself.

The State Attorney, Michael Satz, and his assistant state attorney Tim Donnelly showed remarkable restraint in only indicting those charged with violations of the sunshine laws.  I am told that there are currently other matters under investigation and perhaps we will hear more in the near future.  That being said, one has to wonder what the purpose of having Broward Health’s outside counsel come to address the board as part of public comments instead of the more dignified, and appropriate time as part of Broward Health’s regular Corporate Counsel’s report.   Oh, I forgot, the corporate counsel no longer gives a report.  Used to be…  but that’s for a future article.

Then the meeting got interesting, starting with the articulate Senator Perry Thurston who wondered out loud why there seem to be some rules if you are black and other rules if you are white.

They justly wondered why the rules for an accused black Broward Health interim CEO who was summerly fired based upon an allegation, a mere investigation – when the current white interim CEO keeps her job after being charged with a crime.  I wrote about this in my previous article, so I won’t rehash the argument here.  The argument was eloquently stated by State Senator Perry Thurston.

Here’s how the Sun-Sentinel saw the public comments:

Broward Health board attacked after indictments
David Fleshler

“The leaders of Broward Health sat stone-faced Wednesday afternoon as several black leaders accused them of hypocrisy for clinging to their positions despite the indictments that shook the public hospital system. Four people at the table — two board members, the general counsel and the interim chief…”

There were a few other curious matters during this meeting into which I need to do some investigation, but I want to post this as quickly as I could so I will end the post here.

Just the public comments portion of the meeting:

The full unedited Board meeting:

BH December 20, 2017, Board Meeting Agenda Packet

Posted in Board Meetings, Broward Health Board | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Broward Health: More whistleblowing and Thursday’s board meeting of the indicted

By Dan Christensen, – More whistleblowing at Broward Health as board meeting with indicted commissioners and counsel draws near.

…”The latest case, filed in Broward Circuit Court Dec. 8, accuses Broward Health, through General Counsel Lynn Barrett, of firing former CEO Pauline Grant on Dec. 1, 2016 “in retaliation for actions she took in an attempt to investigate and remedy misfeasance and malfeasance within the public agency.”

…”Also still unfolding is Broward Health Commission Chairman David Di Pietro’s politically explosive whistleblower complaint, first reported by Florida Bulldog in September. In an amended complaint, Di Pietro has included more information about alleged political influence and bribery.”…

Read the whole story: Broward Health: More whistleblowing and Thursday’s board meeting of the indicted

Posted in Broward Health Board, Corporate Management, Guest Author, OIG, Physician Contracts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment