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How Covid-19 Might Increase the U.S Suicide Rate

How Covid-19 Might Increase the U.S Suicide Rate

Did you know that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and in 2018 alone there was an estimated 1.4 million reported suicide attempts with 48,344 Americans dying by suicide in 2018 (you can learn more about suicide warnings and risk factors here). September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and with the coronavirus continuing on, scientists are worried the pandemic can lead to an even larger increase in suicide rates than we’ve seen in recent years with a 35% increase since 1999 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

A recent scientific article in the Journal of the American Medical Association states “the unprecedented health actions needed to contain the pandemic, along with social distancing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and stress due to job loss may lead to even more suicides in the upcoming years.” Here are some of the major risk factors for COVID-19 related suicide. 

  • Social Distancing and Isolation. By nature, humans are social creatures and taking away the ability to be social and connect with others can be detrimental to our mental health, especially if you have pre-existing mental health issues. 
  • Economic Recession or Job Loss. The entire globe is currently going through an economic crisis as job loss, a decrease in consumer spending, businesses going out of business, etc.
  • Healthcare Professional Stress and Trauma. New research shows healthcare providers all over the globe are at an increased-risk for mental health issues due to COVID-19 due to extreme stress, lack of sleep, fear of getting sick, and trauma from watching so many patients die.
  • Decreased Access to Mental Health Treatment. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many therapy offices have been closed to in-person sessions

 

If you know someone who might be struggling, below are some suicide warning signs and things to look for.

  • Talking about suicide. This could include blanket statements like “I’m going to kill myself” or “I wish I were dead” or simply talking more about death.
  • Being completely withdrawn, avoiding contact with others such as not responding to calls, texts or messages.
  • Extreme mood swings that might include emotional highs or being deeply discouraged the following day.
  • Using drugs or alcohol excessively or doing risky or self-destructive behaviors.
  • Changes in their normal routine including sleeping or eating patterns or erratic behavior.
  • Giving away belongings when there’s no need to do so.
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

 

If you think you might be at risk of hurting yourself, reach out for help before taking action such as ending your own life. Below are some resources

  • Contact your doctor or a mental health professional
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or the mobile crisis line at 1-877-685-2415
  • If you are Transgender you can call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860
  • Call a local emergency number
  • Reach out to a close friend or a loved one.
  • Remember that you are not alone, you are loved and you are worthy of a space on this Earth.