Mental health experts caution that COVID-19 pandemic may escalate suicide epidemic
Sheppard Pratt today announced a series of events and resources intended to educate and support the public as part of Suicide Prevention Month—a nationwide effort to raise awareness for suicide prevention that takes place each September.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. was in the midst of a suicide epidemic, with more than 48,000 deaths by suicide reported in 2018 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mental health experts caution that COVID-19-related uncertainty may escalate this crisis. In fact, a recent study conducted in June 2020 by the CDC stated that 10% of the general population and a staggering 24% of respondents ages 18-24 reported that they had considered suicide in the last month. To put that in perspective, only 4% of respondents in a relatively similar study considered taking their own lives in 2018.
“The heightened uncertainty and anxiety of COVID-19, disruption in personal and work life including rising un-employment coupled with the stress and isolation of social distancing, are causing feelings of hopelessness,” says Deepak Prabhakar, MD, MPH, medical director of outpatient services. “We understand the great burdens people are under and want those who might be struggling with their mental health to know there is help and resources available to them.”
Below are the list of virtual events beginning this September. For the complete list and more details, visit sheppardpratt.org/prevent-suicide.
Lunch & Learn with Sheppard Pratt
The virtual “Lunch & Learn with Sheppard Pratt” series offers virtual lunch dates with Sheppard Pratt experts on suicide prevention topics. Lunch & Learns will be held on select Tuesdays in September at noon at facebook.com/sheppardpratt. A Sheppard Pratt expert will speak and then answer questions submitted via the Facebook Live comment feed. View the complete schedule below:
September 15: Knowing the Risk: Suicide and Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are often a silent battle that co-mingle with other mental illness including depression and mood disorders. As eating disorders are associated with high mortality rates due to medical complications and increased suicide risk, it is important for people to understand the risk factors, warning signs, and treatment options. Marissa Edwards, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Eating Disorders, will share more on the thinking patterns of those with eating disorders, the risk factors, and how to find the appropriate level of care, support, and education.
September 22: Veteran Support & Suicide Prevention
Veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than Americans who never served in the military. Female veterans die by suicide at rates almost twice as high as other Americans. Sarah Norman, chief of community development, will explore underlying factors that are often ignored, from unemployment to homelessness. She will also share resources and new strategies to promote mental health and well-being for veterans.
September 29: In Distress: Youth & Suicidality
Rates of suicide among youth have increased dramatically in the last two decades in particular between ages 10-24, which may be attributed to an increase in depression, anxiety, substance use, and even unprecedented levels of social media use. This begs the question, how well do we recognize the signs of suicide in our youth? Deepak Prabhakar, MD, MPH, medical director of outpatient services, will speak to the warning signs, and what parents, teachers, and loved ones should be on the lookout for as well as how to talk to children and adolescents about suicide.
Additionally, Sheppard Pratt is challenging community members to walk 48,000 steps (approximately 21 miles) in September in an effort to raise awareness about the more than 48,000 Americans who die by suicide each year and connect people to the mental health resources and services they need.
For more information on these events and resources, visit sheppardpratt.org/prevent-suicide.
About Sheppard Pratt
Sheppard Pratt is the largest private, nonprofit provider of mental health, substance use, developmental disability, special education, and social services in the country. A nationwide resource, Sheppard Pratt provides services across a comprehensive continuum of care, spanning both hospital- and community-based resources. Since its founding in 1853, Sheppard Pratt has been innovating the field through research, best practice implementation, and a focus on improving the quality of mental health care on a global level. Sheppard Pratt has been consistently ranked as a top national psychiatric hospital by U.S. News & World Report for 30 years.