Let’s face it — suicide is difficult to talk about. For those living with a suicidal family member or friend, it can be overwhelming and scary. It can also be uncomfortable and painful to discuss after the loss of a loved one.
Feelings of Despair are Real
There’s no doubt that we’re living in the largest mental health crisis of our lifetime. The ripple effects of the pandemic will be with us for decades. Many people are struggling with depression and feelings of despair, particularly as new, highly contagious coronavirus variants force immunocompromised people to stay at home. Not only is COVID fatigue a very true feeling to experience, but the extenuating isolation has also exacerbated much mental health strain in our society today. No one is alone in this feeling.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that older adults—especially those isolated or in cognitive decline—may become more anxious, angry, stressed, agitated, and withdrawn while in quarantine. This can lead to extreme sadness, hopelessness, and suicide ideation.
The CDC noted: Suicide attempts are also on the rise among teenagers, especially girls. Nationwide, emergency room visits following suicide attempts by girls age 12 to 17 spiked in 2020 and the first months of 2021. According to a recent analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of girls who went to the hospital after a suspected suicide attempt rose 51 percent from March 2019 to March 2021. The increase among boys was 3.7 percent. This is not only limited to this population. The weight and impacts of COVID-19 have spread across all ages, genders, and ethnicities throughout the world.
Reducing the Stigma Associated with Suicide
Many complex factors can lead to suicide. It’s imperative to understand that each death by suicide or attempted suicide is different and should never be judged. Often, mental health issues, such as severe depression, bipolar disorders, and even eating disorders can put people at a higher risk of suicide. People struggling with addiction issues can also fall into a deep depression, putting them at risk of an overdose.
Our society has stigmatized suicide for too long, with many people labeling those who attempt it as “selfish” or “cowardly.” Others who attempt multiple suicides may be seen as “attention seekers” who are not serious about their threats. These categorizations are misguided and dangerous.
There are also shattering effects for those left behind. For every death by suicide, there are six or more “suicide survivors” who struggle with a much more complex grieving process that often involves intense emotions such as anger, sadness, and guilt. To make matters worse, many of these grieving family and friends are shunned or experience a social disconnect as those around them avoid the topic.
Know the Warning Signs
If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, please call 911 immediately.
In addition, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours in English and Spanish. That number is 800-273-8255.
Some of the warning signs that someone is in acute danger of hurting themselves include:
- Talking about wanting to die or threatening to kill themselves
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness
- Talking about how loved ones would be better off without them
- Withdrawal or feeling isolated
- Increasing use of alcohol and drugs
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Increased reckless behavior
- Changes in sleep patterns – sleeping excessively or having issues with insomnia
- Giving away personal items that they value
- Saying “Goodbye” to family and friends
How We Can Help
Our team at Bayless focuses on integration or whole-person health. Our unique service integration of primary care, behavioral health, including individual therapy and group therapy, addiction medicine, psychiatry medicine, and wellness enables our team to provide better health outcomes. At Bayless, we focus on ALL of you.
New patients can call Bayless Integrated Healthcare at 602-777-6337 for a free, 15-minute wellness consultation. You can also click here to make an appointment online. Remember, if you are experiencing a crisis, please call 911 immediately.