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New Dedicated 24/7 Trilingual Suicide Hotline for the GLBT Community

News release:

Switchboard of Miami proudly announces the renaming of the Kevin Cline Suicide Awareness Initiative [KCSAI) to the GLBT Suicide Awareness Initiative (GLBT SAI) to highlight our services to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community. Supporting this focus is a new dedicated hotline [305-646-3600], available 24/7, staffed with trilingual counselors (English, Spanish, and Creole) that are ready to assist those in need and friends of those in need of suicide prevention and crisis intervention.

The mission of the GLBT SAI is to save lives by raising awareness of suicide and other mental health related issues that impact the GLBT community in Miami-Dade County. At a 30 percent greater risk of suicide than its heterosexual counterpart, the GLBT population is exposed to a lethal combination of high-risk behaviors including drug use, sexual promiscuity, high HIV infection rates, social rejection, conflict between sexual orientation and religious beliefs, financial hardships, loneliness and depression. "Bringing the topic of suicide out of the closet will be an important outcome of the initiative" says Yocasta Juliao, Director of Helpline Services at Switchboard of Miami.

The GLBT SAI has saved 19 lives with direct intervention provided through the hotline. Switchboard of Miami has placed a series of print media "info ads" targeting those at risk and friends of those at risk. These ads have been seen by over 30,000 people in various GLBT publications raising awareness of suicide and the availability of the hotline. A new generation of ads is being finalized with the assistance of talented students from the Miami Ad School. In addition, “Info-Flyers” are being distributed county-wide, the first entitled "Crossing the Line….When Depression Can Lead to Suicide.” Furthermore, “sensitivity classes will be initiated at the beginning of 2007 to engage bartenders, waiters, personal trainers and other first-line individuals in our efforts to identify warning signs of suicide on persons at-risk,” said Michael Dentato, MSW, Director of Clinical Services. The GLBT SAI web site will soon be launched providing information on how to access help as well as links to other nationally known suicide helplines.

Since its inception, the Initiative has benefited from the involvement of volunteers and most recently from the collaboration of community partners such as The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth which is comprised of leading organizations including GLSEN South Florida, Equality Florida, Pridelines Youth Services, YES Institute, Jewish Community Services of South Florida and Switchboard of Miami.

We are also proud to announce the financial support received from the Joseph H. and Florence A. Roblee Foundation. This is in addition to contributions from individuals and businesses concerned about this growing problem in the GLBT community. As a 501c3 organization, the agency is seeking additional contributions from various sources to help promote and implement this initiative. Parties interested in making a donation to this worthy program may contact Yocasta Juliao at yjuliao@switchboardmiami.org or at Switchboard of Miami, 701 SW 27th Ave., Suite 1000, Miami, FL 33135. All contributions will be tax deductable.

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