1 Every 40
Somewhere in the world, someone is in the process of taking their own life right now. The World Health Organization estimates that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds. The CDC states that, in the U.S. alone, about 1.4 million people attempted suicide, and more than 48,000 people successfully took their life in 2018. It is the 10th leading cause of death.
That was two years ago. This year, in 2020, we have a pandemic that has forced many of us into isolation, which increased stress and anxiety significantly and reduced the access to mental health services for many. That is why, when the World Health Organization announced their World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2020, they focused on the increased challenges of mental health during these days of COVID-19.
There is a reported increase in sales of alcohol, but that is not always the drug of choice. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that as of June 2020, 30 states reported an increase in opioid-related fatalities with a correlation to the pandemic. It is believed that to cope with the stress of the current situation, some will turn to substance abuse, and some previous abusers will relapse. Follow this link to find resources offered by the NSC for employers facing this dilemma.
Now that we are slowly coming out of isolation, returning to work and entering into a world of mask-wearing and social distancing, what can we do to help?
1. Watch and listen. Watch one another for signs of distress, anxiety, or substance abuse. When someone starts to talk, listen to what they are saying. Are they having difficulty sleeping? Do they seem overly anxious? When you observe someone having issues, don’t tell them everything will be okay or dismiss them. Offer to spend time with them (masked and distanced). Give them the list of numbers below where they can find professional assistance. Let them know you care.
2. Take a break. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, pay attention to your own mental health. Try doing something different. Turn the channel from the news to a funny movie or cartoon. Get up from your computer, go stretch, take a walk, read a book, and/or meditate. Put down the alcoholic drink, make a cup of tea or have some fruit juice.
3. Reach out to someone. We all are feeling the need for connection right now. Facetime a friend. Schedule a zoom meeting for your extended family. Talk on the phone with someone you have not seen for a while. If you are feeling the need for connect, chances are that they feel the same way.
4. Find community. Many communities and faith-based organizations have online assistance available. Connect to like-minded people through these resources.
5. Find Resources. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a webpage that can connect you with confidential treatment in your area. Here is the link. And following is a list of sites and phone numbers for more assistance:
- Disaster Distress Helpline:1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat.
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 8388255
For more information, we recommend downloading this guide from The Who, linked here.