SEPTEMBER IS SUICIDE PREVENTION AWARENESS MONTH
by Toni Wellen, CAGV Chair Emeritus
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been associated with mental health challenges related to and caused by the disease and to mitigation activities, including the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.
Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder have increased considerably in the United States with the onset of this deadly pandemic beginning in early 2020 as compared with early 2019.
Suicide presents major challenges to public health in the US and the world. America is a global leader in suicide rates. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people between the ages of 10-24, with rates rising steadily over the past two decades. More than 60 in 100-gun deaths each year are by suicide. Handgun ownership is associated with much higher suicide risk. Men who own handguns are eight times more likely to die of gun suicide than men who don’t own handguns, and women who own handguns are 35 times more likely than women who don’t.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults, and for every youth suicide it is estimated that 100 to 200 others attempt suicide. Young adulthood is a time when many people experience significant stress from life transitions such as gaining more independence and responsibility when moving from home and beginning college or a career. Those stresses have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are glimmers of resilience – the ability to bounce back from a negative experience or difficult challenge—for young adults.
Increased firearm acquisition has occurred causing increased psychological distress due to COVID. There is an increase in established suicide risk factors (personal loss, isolation). The data relating suicide to COVID continues to be studied and compiled.
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