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The Truth About COVID-19 Affecting Suicide Rates


The Truth About COVID-19 Affecting Suicide Rates

  • Mental Health

Loneliness and isolation are horrible for mental health, and the Covid-19 pandemic has created a lot of both across the globe. 

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and the number of deaths by suicide has increased by 35% between 1999 and 2019. It was also the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34 in 2019, just behind unintentional injury, and in the top 10 causes for all age groups. That year alone, there were about 1.3 million suicide attempts in the United States, and 47,511 Americans died by suicide.

While the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, the lasting mental health impacts for healthcare workers, families who have lost loved ones, and the general public are unknown. However, mental health and suicide rate statistics from 2020 are surprising to some.

Have Suicide Rates Increased during the Pandemic?

While most predicted that the lengthy quarantine and distance from loved ones would lead to more suicides, the opposite has actually happened. 

Though data are not yet available for 2021, suicide rates in the early days of the pandemic have decreased about 6% from years prior to 44,834 deaths by suicide in the United States in 2020. That’s the sharpest decline in the United States in the past 4 decades. 

Dr. Christine Yu Moutier, the chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told Healthline it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly led to the change, but some historical data around wartime and other national crises also foreshadowed this drop-in rates.

“Community cohesion and sense of belonging is a very potent protective factor against suicide risk, along with other experiences like connecting to support and mental health service,” she said.

Luckily, while the physical world was distant, teletherapy was readily available for Americans during the pandemic. According to the American Psychological Association, a third of psychologists said they were seeing more patients after March 2020. Those who treat anxiety and depression were even higher in demand, with ¾ of available therapists seeing an increase in treatment demand

“We’ve had a waitlist of about 187 people,” Dr. Mary Alvord told CNBC of her practice’s increase in new patient requests. “We seem to reduce it, and then we go back up again.”

Depression Rates During Covid Pandemic

While suicide rates have decreased during the pandemic, mood disorders like anxiety and depression are on the rise.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American adults in June 2020 reported “considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions,” including young adults, essential workers, racial minorities, and adult caregivers. Many said they experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, or elevated suicidal ideation as a direct result of the pandemic and subsequent quarantine.

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Compared to the same period in 2019, anxiety disorders were three times more prevalent, and depressive disorders had increased four times. Of those involved, 1 in 4 reported increased anxiety or depression symptoms, and 1 in 10 reported an increase in substance use.

And while suicide rates are down, twice as many participants reported serious consideration of suicide versus American adults in 2018.

Contact Us Today

When it comes to mental health, no one can fight an uphill battle alone. If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, we’re here to help. Contact us to set up an appointment, and stop the stigma of being “too strong” to need help.

If you’re considering suicide, or are worried about a loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 for free, confidential support 24/7. We can all help prevent suicide. 

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.