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National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and COVID-19

suicide prevention month - it's ok to ask for help

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the physical health of millions of American’s, but the impact on mental health may never be quantified. Whether from fear of contracting the infection or a result of stay-at-home orders, many Americans are experiencing anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness, and loneliness. Those feelings may become constant and overwhelming, and if you already suffer from a mental health condition, can worsen. In some instances, these feelings may get to the point that an individual considers suicide. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. While the 10th in the U.S., suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for persons aged 10-34 and 4th for persons aged 35-54 in the State of Michigan. On average, one person dies by suicide every six hours in the State. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The purpose of the month is to raise public awareness, so people know it is okay to talk about suicide, bust the stigma surrounding mental health, and advocate for better mental health care. 

In a July Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 53% of adults in the U.S. reported poor mental health due to worry and stress over COVID-19. This number is significantly higher than the 32% reported in March. Of those reporting negative impacts on their mental health and wellbeing, 36% had difficulty sleeping, 12% increased alcohol consumption or substance use, and 12% experienced worsening chronic conditions as a result of the worry and stress associated with coronavirus.  

You should reach out for professional help if you or someone you know is showing any of the following warning signs:

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Giving away prized possessions

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

  • Sleeping too little or too much

  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. If you’re feeling emotional distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, help is available. Visit michigan.gov/staywell for a list of free resources available for you to connect to receive the support services you need without having to leave your home. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255.