Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Day

The last six months or more have been tough for tens of millions of Americans. Each of us has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear of contracting the deadly virus, loss of employment or financial safety nets, and mental distress are far too common. Sadly, the public health crisis has wreaked havoc on millions of people’s mental health.

There has been a significant change in how we navigate through life; steering clear of most people is now routine. Always wondering if a person you come into contact with is infected isn’t good for one’s psyche. What’s more, the coronavirus incubation period is relatively long; it can take up to two weeks to become noticeable.

While many states and local governments are making headway on containing the virus and flattening the infection rate curve, the effects of a dramatically altered way of life are lingering. A relatively large number of men and women’s mental health and well-being has diminished.

People are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety at far higher rates than this time last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individuals have been subject to a trauma– and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) symptoms related to the pandemic. Moreover, many people have considered suicide over the summer.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This week, we are observing Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day is today.

Preventing Suicide Means Treating Mental Health Disorders

Preventing suicide means first acknowledging the link between suicide and mental illness. Mental and behavioral health disorders require treatment and daily maintenance to keep symptoms at bay. Successful recovery depends on learning how to stop self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors, such as self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares that more than one in three people who die by suicide have alcohol in their systems. Around half of individuals who take their lives have a diagnosed mental illness, and 90 percent exhibited symptoms of a mental health disorder before committing suicide.

Given that fewer than half of people who experience mental illness get the help they need, it’s little wonder why America’s overall suicide rate increased 31 percent since 2001. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America and 2nd among people ages 10-34.

The above statistics make it abundantly clear—suicide is an epidemic. What’s more, the current COVID-19 public health crisis is now a factor to consider regarding future suicide rates.

Unsurprisingly, the CDC reports that more people are turning to substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to coronavirus. Many of those who are using drugs and alcohol are also contending with depression and anxiety. Substance and mental illness do not mix well, and it can make people more susceptible to suicidal ideations. The best medicine for mental health disorders is evidence-based treatments and working a program of recovery.

Getting Involved With Suicide Prevention Day

The more people who observe Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Week, and Day, the greater the reach we will have in providing hope for individuals struggling with mental health disorders and addiction. Everyone is invited to share images and infographics on social media accounts using #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree. Some people in recovery may want to share their stories of hope.

NAMI is among many organizations and campaigns dedicated to reducing the suicide rate in America. The Each Mind Matters campaign supports National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, World Suicide Prevention Day, and National Recovery Month.

Today, they ask us to place a lit candle in a window or on social media at 8 pm as a symbol of hope and support for suicide prevention and in memory of those we’ve lost to suicide. Those posting images of a candle on social media are advised to use #SuicidePreventionWeek2020.

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