Suicide awareness emphasized by COVID-19

September is Suicide Awareness Month, with hopes to bring attention to the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, 2nd amongst those aged 10-34, according to the CDC. In 2018, 1.4 million U.S. adults attempted suicide.

However, due to an accumulating amount of circumstances in today’s world, mental health cannot fade into the background. Quarantine has forced society into physical isolation for months alone with their thoughts and anxiety of what is to become of the world.

For many, this is the first time that the stress of life has slowed and allowed them to fully feel thoughts of depression and anxiety. Being separated from those we care about certainly does not help either but does not have to mean social isolation as well.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s theme for 2020 is #KeepGoing. Now, more than ever, it shows that the community we live in must band together. It takes everyone to prevent suicide on a large scale and personal level.

It is just as much the government’s job to look after their communities as it is the individual’s within the communities themselves. The federal government could provide financial support by easing unemployment and other stresses like housing as a temporary solution as well as strengthening healthcare systems access to care.

COVID-19 has shown that now, more than ever, that virtual connections can be effective. Instituting treatment options by phone or online where services are not widely available should be federally implemented. Meaning that even in quarantine, help is available when needed.

Companies can promote and aid employees who need help. Essential workers are placed under a new form of stress, and being put at a higher risk causes more anxiety in these uncertain times. It is vital that they are provided with necessary mental health resources and that they will not be discriminated against should they choose to reach out.

Schools play a role in teaching younger generations about the right way to cope with stressful situations as well as that it is okay to not be okay. So that, hopefully, everyone can learn to accept one another for who they are and offer support.

There is an argument that suicide awareness should be present in every month, and we at the Blazer agree. Mental health needs to become a constant conversation, but there is a need for action as well.

September is meant to create change based on that dialogue and spread resources. Everyone has the responsibility of learning the signs of suicide, how to respond, and resources they can access.

Check in on those you care about, even if they seem like they are doing okay. Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, race, or gender. There is still a stigma surrounding mental health illnesses within groups like men, meaning risk factors often go unnoticed.

Pay attention to the warning signs, as laid out by the CDC: talking about wanting to die or feeling like a burden, substance abuse, giving away possessions out of nowhere, extreme mood swings between mania and depression, and extreme changes in appetite or sleep.

Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to respond, act fast. Ask direct questions about their intentions and listen carefully. Remove access to lethal situations if you truly believe they might do something drastic and, most importantly, do not keep it a secret. Help them connect with ongoing support or call someone to help them, then follow up to see how they’re doing.

If you or someone you know is struggling, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or connect with a counselor online at https://suicidepreventionlifeline. org/chat/.

JJC offers professional mental health services as well for students, all information regarding the program can be found at student-resources/health-andwellness.