Calls to suicide and crisis hotlines increase during pandemic

Calls to suicide and crisis hotlines increase during pandemic

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and calls for help for mental health assistance are rising at record levels.

“It is extremely serious. It is ending your own life.”

Sitaniel Wimbley is the executive director National Alliance on Mental Illness here in Mississippi.

She says calls for help are up by 75 percent since the pandemic started. She is not surprised.

“We’re stuck in the house. We can’t go away. We have to wear masks all day. Why would we not feel like we are stuck bubble? But get the help you need if you recognize you are struggling even if you feel like I need to talk to someone just to clear this air."

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health says calls to its suicide and crisis hotline are also rising.

“Suicide is a growing epidemic that affects all individuals of all races, as well as classes," said Ja’Quila Newsome with the Mississsippi Department of Mental Health.

Suicide is now the 12th leading cause of all deaths in the state of Mississippi, and the 3rd leading cause of death among people from the age 15 to 24 in Mississippi. That’s why the Department of Mental Health is pushing the “Shatter the Silence” campaign to promote prevention, concern, and treatment.

“If you’re concerned about an individual who is thinking about suicide, we use the acronym ACT, acknowledge the risk is real, care enough to listen without judgment, tell someone and access help, and part of the help is we have the 1-800 Suicide Prevention line,” said Newsome.

Both the Department of Health and NAMI are also providing virtual care during the pandemic.

They also recommend seeking professional help if needed.

“Just like a tune up, you can go into a doctor’s office and get your yearly checkup and you can ask them to do a depression screener every year. It’s important to talk to someone instead of getting to a point where you’re willing to leave and commit suicide,” Said Wimbley.

Find more suicide prevention resources at https://namims.org/ and www.mentalhealthms.com.

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