Increase in suicidal ideation amid pandemic

Suicide remains the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 34.
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 9:48 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - With so much attention still being focused on the medical fallout of the virus, we can’t forget the mental toll either.

National CDC data shows the number of people who report they have considered committing suicide in the past year has increased. At the Crisis Services Center of North Alabama, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline has certainly not stayed silent either.

According to Adde Waggoner, sexual assault prevention educator at Crisis Services of North Alabama, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 34 and the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in America. Since the start of the pandemic, the mental health crisis has escalated.

“When you are isolated from your friends and family especially, you become depressed, anxious,” Waggoner said. “You may not have the best coping skills and you may be stuck in an environment at home that is not exactly safe or healthy.”

There is not one sole factor that contributes to someone attempting or completing suicide. However, Waggoner said most of the calls to the center’s HELPline in the past year raise similar concerns.

“It’s fear of getting COVID or loved ones getting COVID and dying. It’s fear of not having normalcy again,” Waggoner said.

For students, the constant uncertainty about school and schedules creates more anxiety.

“Their world’s were upended. They were in school on a Friday and then they were out of school on a Monday across the state,” Waggoner said. “So that really does contribute to feelings of unease and depression.”

Waggoner points out, suicide is a societal problem and the contagion effect will always exist.

“And so when someone in the community such as a high schooler suicides, then you tend to see an increase in ideation because it’s then okay… It’s seen as a viable way out, unfortunately,” Waggoner said.

That’s why it’s so important to talk about suicide as we come out of this pandemic into a world where everything seems so unfamiliar.

“If you even have an inkling that somebody is having suicidal ideations, just talk to them. You are not going to put the idea in somebody’s head,” Waggoner said. “In fact, oftentimes when somebody does feel suicidal, they feel like such a burden that that’s the only way they can see out for themselves.”

If you do know someone who needs help but you don’t know what to say, Waggoner suggests referring them to the HELPline or Nat’l Suicide Hotline.

HELPline: 256-716-1000 or 1-800-691-8426

Nat’l Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

The Crisis Services Center also has several videos on its YouTube channel. The videos describe warning signs of suicide and outline ways you can help if you suspect somebody is having suicidal thoughts.

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