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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Coronavirus Crisis Creates ‘Perfect Storm’ For #Suicide Risk As Job Losses Soar And People Are Isolated At Home

  • Sustained economic #stress from job losses and downturns in the stock market could be associated with higher U.S. #suicide rates, according to #mentalhealthexperts in a JAMA report. 
  • Heightened feelings of #loneliness and #isolation are associated with suicidal thoughts, they said. 
  • #Suicide rates tend to peak in the late spring and summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which will probably coincide with peak #Covid-19 prevention efforts, they said. 
A sign in an abandoned storefront says, "Suicide is Not An Option Call Me Anytime' in the hope of helping people with despair during this time.

A sign in an abandoned storefront says, “#Suicide is Not An Option Call Me Anytime’ in the hope of helping people with despair during this time.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

As millions of #Americans lose their jobs and economists predict a slow recovery, #mentalhealthprofessionals warn that the prolonged financial and personal #stress caused by the #Covid-19 #pandemic increases the risk of #suicide, especially in people already grappling with #depression and #anxiety. 

For weeks, #Americans have been confined to their homes as states across the U.S. have implemented some form of stay-at-home orders aimed at containing the #coronavirus outbreak by reducing human contact and shuttering schools, offices and other nonessential businesses. While effective at containing the outbreak, “the potential for adverse outcomes on #suicide risk is high,” according to an article published in JAMA Psychiatry last month.

The soaring unemployment rate and stock market losses caused by the #Covid-19 #pandemic, combined with millions of people quarantining at home alone creates the “perfect storm” for an increased risk of #suicide for many people, according to the JAMA article, which was led by Dr. Mark Reger, a #suicideprevention researcher and chief of psychology services at VA Puget Sound Health Care System.

(If you or someone you know are having thoughts of #suicide or self harm, please contact the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at this link or by calling 1-800-273-TALK. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.)

Financial #stress

Research shows that #suicide rates tend to rise after economic recessions.The U.S. unemployment rate stands at around 14.7%, and could be closer to 20%, putting a staggering 20.5 million people out of work in April— the most rapid labor market decline in history. Some economists warn that the economic recovery from these actions will likely be slow and bumpy, and how and when workers will return to their jobs is difficult to predict.

Most adults in an American Psychiatric Association survey in March were already concerned the #coronavirus would have a serious negative impact to their finances, and two-thirds feared the #pandemic would have a long-lasting impact on the economy.

“We’re in for a long-term #mentalhealthcrisis,” said Vaile Wright, director of clinical research and quality for the American Psychological Association.

Some government officials have expanded city #mentalhealthservices, including in New York where Gov. Andrew Cuomo said thousands of #mentalhealthprofessionals have volunteered to provide free and confidential support through a new hotline and residents can use Headspace, a meditation and mindfulness app. New Jersey has launched a similar hotline.

#Suicide rates tend to peak in the late spring and summer in the Northern Hemisphere, according to the JAMA article co-written by Reger.

“The fact that this will probably coincide with peak #COVID-19 prevention efforts is concerning and deserves additional study,” he wrote. 

#Coronavirus amplifies #anxiety

#Suicide rates among working-age adults in the U.S. were increasing before the #pandemic began sweeping through the country this year. In January, the U.S. #CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention reported that #suicide deaths among those ages 16 to 64 had increased 40% in less than two decades, totaling near 38,000 people in 2017. 

Compared with other traumatic events in the past, such as 9/11 or natural disasters, the #coronavirus #pandemic has a much broader impact across the country and has caused greater feelings of uncertainty, which increases a person’s #anxiety, Wright said. 

Modeling from previous events of this magnitude suggests that the #pandemic has exacerbated underlying #mentalhealthdisorders, including #anxiety, #stress, anger and #depression, Dr. Simon Rego of Montefiore Health System in New York told CNBC. He said these issues are amplified when there’s additional economic or medical #stress or increased social isolation.The #Covid-19 outbreak has caused all three.

“People become at higher risk for things like greater depressive episodes or increases in problematic coping strategies like substance abuse,” Rego said. “You see some correlation data that suggests people are at greater risk for increased feelings and thoughts of #suicide.” 

Essential workers under #stress

Essential workers are under tremendous #stress since their jobs put them at a greater risk of infection from commuting to work and interacting with the public. 

Grocery workers may need more #mentalhealthservices, including therapy, to help cope with the #stress, according to psychologists and the nation’s top grocery worker union. #Anxiety, #depression and other #mentalhealthchallenges may linger, even as #coronavirus cases level out or decline — especially for those on the front lines.

#Healthcareproviders are especially vulnerable between the long hours and lack of personal protective equipment that places their own lives at risk, psychiatrists say. Some have had to make difficult decisions about how to allocate life-saving resources to patients, said Dr. Maria Oquendo, chair of psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. 

The #stress drove one New York doctor, who ran the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, to commit #suicide last month, her father told The New York Times.

“They’re watching all of this suffering around them and I think that those individuals are at particular risk just due to the degree of #stress,” Oquendo said.

Oquendo said that research from other traumatic events, such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters, shows that 25% of the population could experience a #mentalhealthproblem, most commonly #depression, post-traumatic #stress disorder and #anxiety disorders, in the six months following the event. 

“I think that one of the things that makes this different is the compounding due to the quarantine and the economic consequences,” Oquendo said. 

Maintain a routine

Even if someone’s not working, it’s important to maintain a daily routineget enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise regularly,Oquendo said. 

It’s also healthy to engage in activities that maintain their emotional well-being like staying virtually connected to other people, Wright said. 

“They sound very simple, but they provide the structures that need to protect our #mentalhealth,” Wright said. “When we’re able to do that and have some sort of even keel, then we can figure out, ‘OK, what do I do about the fact that I don’t have a job?’” 

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

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