Mental illnesses have increased due to social isolation, unemployment, barriers to healthcare, and uncertainty about the future. September is the National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and this year, researchers are committed to sharing resources to break the stigma. Besides increased rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, Talkspace reports that a recent study has shown that there are increased feelings of suicidal ideation in the United States.
The study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in four youths had the feeling of committing suicide in June 2020. Unpaid adult caretakers, essential workers, and people that lost their businesses are more prone to suicidal ideation compared to the general population.
One hypothesis is that the escalation might be caused by uncertainty about the future mixed with an extreme feeling of responsibility. This feeling occurs when you strive to change the situation, but everything seems to be working against you. In addition, factors such as lack of social support, financial instability, and exposure to myriad forms of abuse contribute to suicidal thoughts.
If you have had suicidal thoughts and ideation during the lockdown, the CDC research should remind you that you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are many ways to seek help and support when you have suicidal ideation.
The National Alliance on Mental Illnesses is ready to assist those in dire need of support. Those in need of emergency help should not hesitate to call 911. If you are battling distress and suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255). If you are uncomfortable with speaking out through a phone call, you can text “NAMI” to 741-741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor for free. Don’t be ashamed of seeking help since a significant number of people are willing to walk with you through challenging thoughts and feelings.
If you are close or know someone experiencing suicidal ideation, it is prudent to openly talk about suicide. Being open about suicidal thoughts with victims goes a long way in helping them to heal. It is a misconception that talking about suicide makes someone feel weak. Instead, speaking bluntly about suicidal thoughts can provide relief and reinforce a positive effect that things may not be worse as one may consider them.
The Role of a Therapist During the Current Crisis
Is a therapist of much help during the current crisis? The answer is, “yes.” Surprisingly, cognitive behavioral therapy has a great impact on minimizing suicidal ideation. These approaches work pretty well in helping us to identify triggers, develop strong skills for emotional regulation, and discover moments when our brains aren’t stable. When we speak with a trained and licensed counselor about our challenges, we can develop resilience and emerge emotionally stronger.
These therapeutic approaches were found to be functional for a group, individual, online setting, and in-person. Instead of struggling silently, it is prudent to give therapy a try. Interestingly, researchers found that one week of therapy can make a significant difference. It is essential to connect with a therapist and comfortably tell them how you feel. Therapists are professionally trained not to judge your feelings, thoughts, or behavior.
That’s said, those undergoing therapy for suicidal ideation should know that mental health specialists have a “duty to warn” in case a patient shows a consistent desire to take their life. Specialists can take action or plan to access things they intend to use to kill themselves. Clients should never see this as a breach since therapists are always looking to save their lives. It is an ethical obligation to ensure that clients don’t harm themselves. Therefore “duty to warn” should not make you feel anxious about speaking out your suicidal ideation.
For more information, be sure to check out Talkspace.