Written by Kirsten Kingsley, MA, LPC
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month but before I share content in this blog post please see the below resources in case you find yourself or someone you know is in a suicide crisis and need immediate assistance:
- If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.
- If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- If you are uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.
Can we just say that 2020 has been a challenging year with unexpected twists and turns, as we all navigate this global pandemic? People all over the world are being severely impacted by COVID-19 and the life we once knew is gone while this ‘new normal’ we’ve been forced to accept is full of unknowns, uncertainties, and what if’s. Masks, virtual meetings, zoom this-zoom that, constant sanitizing, physical distancing…you know what I’m talking about! The devastation of 200,000 lives lost, the loss of jobs and income, and the stripping of our humanity with stay-at-home orders, has resulted in an increase in anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
The CDC reported that in June 2020 10% of people in a sample survey of 5,470 people seriously considered suicide. Specific populations that have been impacted by this global pandemic are young adults, essential workers, African American, and Latinx communities. Suicide is REAL and we must address it head-on but first let’s debunk some myths. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has mentioned the following suicide myths:
- Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Truth: Dr. Kristen Fuller stated, “many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts and not all people who attempt or die by suicide have a mental illness.” There can be situational circumstances/stressors such as relationship issues, financial concerns, job loss, divorce, and YES a pandemic!
- Myth: Once an individual experiences suicidal thoughts, he/she will always remain suicidal.
Truth: NAMI reports that active suicidal ideation is often short-term and situation specific.
- Myth: Most suicides happen suddenly without warning.
Truth: Often there are verbal and behavioral warning signs that precede suicide.
- Myth: People who die by suicide are selfish and take the easy way out.
Truth: Often the motivator for suicide is suffering, an unrelenting pain, and a sense of hopelessness that their situation cannot and will not improve.
- Myth: Talking about suicide will lead and encourage suicide.
Truth: Talking about suicide can actually encourage emotional help, help individuals rethink their options, and help mitigate their feelings of isolation.
Again, suicide is REAL, people are in pain and this pandemic has only escalated emotions. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts you are not alone and you DO NOT have to go it alone. Reach out, call us at 708-689-9814 and know that your mental fitness matters!!