NEW BLOOMFIELD — At times, isolating at home can feel lonely, but for those who mental illnesses like anxiety, depression or have suicidal thoughts staying indoors all day can be more dangerous, experts say.
“We always knew that isolation was a little bit of a risk and unemployment or prolonged stress are also risks for suicide," said Dr. Laine Young-Walker, a psychiatrist with MU Health Care.
Chief Clinical Officer at Behavioral Health Response Dr. Bart Andrews said reports across the country saying the number of suicides is on the rise because COVID-19 isn't the case.
“Typically the first response to a crisis is not suicide," Andrews said. “We are not seeing at this point in Missouri and certainly on my crisis line an increase in suicide related calls if anything it’s down a little bit but that could change. I don’t anticipate upfront anyway a big increase in suicide.”
If you know someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, Andrews said it's best to be direct.
“You should not be afraid to ask someone if they’re thinking about suicide, I know it’s incredibly scary but if you have a loved one or a friend in your life and IF something in the pit of your stomach feels this sounds wrong to me they don’t sound good, ask them are you thinking of suicide,” he said. “We should be normalizing for each other to reach out hey if you’re struggling call the crisis line, talk to a therapist, it’s really important we normalize that process because we’re in for a long haul here.”
Young-Walker says there are several signs you can look out for when calling or Face timing a loved one.
“Talking about wanting to be dead or feeling as if there’s no reason to go on like people are a burden also some of the things that they may talk about may lead you to think that there’s something going on that they want to give away things,” she said. “You may also notice through conversation that they’re sleeping all the time or they’re having a change in their mood.”
During this time, Andrews said it's important to normalize seeking help from friends and family and reaching out to a crisis line if needed. He adds just because we aren't seeing an increase in suicides now, it could happen after social distancing ends.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see volume spike incredibly um when the social distancing effort ends and people gotta go back to their normal lives so the sense that often people don’t feel the full emotionally impact until people feel safe.”
If you or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts or you would like to talk with someone we provided a list of resources below:
Click here, to get more information about mental health from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Click here, to get more information about the Missouri Suicide Prevention Network.
Click here, to get more information about Behavioral Health Response.