Suicide During The Pandemic
Hunter Epperson ~ Staff Writer
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, taking more than 48,000 people’s lives in 2018.” Additionally, according to the CDC, “roughly 10.7 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.3 million American adults made a plan to commit suicide, and 1.4 million attempted to commit suicde.”
On the same hand, suicide does not just impact someone of a speicific age, race, gender/sex, or ethnicity. In fact, “suicide is the seocnd leading cause of death of people between the ages of 10 to 34 years old, fourth leading cause od death for individuals between 35 to 54 years old, and eighth leading cause of death among people 55 to 64,” states the CDC. Lastly, “non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic White populations are at the greatest risk for suicide, and individuals in the fields of miltiary, construction, the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media fields are also at the greatest risk for committing suicide,” according to the CDC. But why should we, Americans, be concerned about the suicide pandemic in the United States?
According to several news sources, such as the Anchorage Daily News, ABC News, USA Today, Inside Higher Education, and Forbes, the number of suicide cases increased by 70% due to the association of COVID, and the number of diagnosises such as anxiety and depression have increased, especially in college-age adults, since the beginning of COVID. But why the increased number of suicde cases during the pandemic, and why is this a big deal?
One theory, which Emile Durkheim explains in his work “Suicide,” explains how during economic hardships such as a pandemic or economic recession, suicide is associated with people often feeling impotent due to losing their jobs and sources of income. Additionally, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, other factors include, but are not limited to: mental health conditions such as depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, anxiety, firearms, stressful life events such as rejection, divorse, loss, and childhood abuse and trauma. On the same hand, according to Rebecca Clay from the American Psychological Association, someone becomes suicidal due to “a combination of biological, psychological, environmental and other factors that renders people vulnerable to suicide.”
While during this time the media focuses on the pandemic of COVID-19 in the United States, due to the rising numbers, the media fails to highlight the pandemic of increasing number of cases of suicides and mental illness diagnosis associated with the pandemic. Because of this, it is critical to understand and be able to identify the signs of suicidal behavior and thoughts.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, some warning signs can be people talking about killing themselves, feeling hopeless, feeling trapped, pain, and/ or no reason to live; or behavior changes such as increased use of alcohol and/or drugs, withdrawl from activities, isolating from family and/or friends, increase or decrease in sleep, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, giving away possessions, aggression, and fatigue. Furthermore, there can be changes in mood, such as being anxious, depressed, loss in interest, irriabitle, shameful, agitated, and spurts of sudden improvement.
If you experience or suspect someone of committing suicide, stay with that person, seek professional help, ask them if they are thinking about committing suicde, and educate others and yourself about suicide and suicide prevention. If you or someone you know is thinking about commiting suicide or has sucidal thoughts, the Health Services at the University of Lynncburg through the Counseling Center Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be contacted at (434) 544-8616 or Hundley Hall, Terrace Level.
For more information or resources, visit https://www.lynchburg.edu/student-life/health-and-counseling/counseling-center/. Another resource available for non University of Lynchburg students is the National Suicide Hotline, which can be contacted at 1-800-273-8255 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.