Gun deaths at highest level in 40 years, CDC says

New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WONDER database shows gun-related deaths have reached the highest level in almost 40 years.

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Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died from a gunshot wound in 2017. According to the data, 14,542 were murders and 23,854 were ruled a suicide.

The CEO of Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems, Christine Cauffield, calls the high suicide rate a "silent disease.

“Those individuals that do complete suicides -- when autopsies are performed, (they) definitely have one or more substances in their bodies at the time of the suicide death,” Cauffield said.

She said those who take their own lives tend to fit the same demographic.

“We are seeing a real rise in suicides, particularly males age 60 and higher,” Cauffield said.

According to Cauffield, Florida ranks 50th in the nation when it comes to funding for behavioral health resources.

She said more money would go a long way.

“It can certainly reduce (the) waiting list, it can improve access to care to services that individuals desperately need; we need more residential beds,” Cauffield said.

Cauffield said there’s hope in the form of medication and therapy but it starts with an important step.

“It’s so important to reach out and let people know how you are feeling,” Cauffield said.

LSF Health Systems is a 24/7 access to a care line where clinicians are on standby to take your call if you need someone to talk to. That number is 877-229-9098.