(WKBN) – September is Suicide Prevention Month. For many, this entire year has been an immersive lesson in understanding mental health.
A local specialist wants to remind people to keep an eye out for early signs of depression.
“Number one causes of someone thinking about suicide are loss of relationship, loss of finances and now, we’re seeing isolation and loneliness,” said April Caraway, executive director of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board.
Although the stay-at-home order was lifted months ago, COVID-19 has continued to take a mental toll on people.
Caraway says they have seen an increase of calls on their suicide hotline.
“We’re getting calls for people in emotional crisis more than any other topic. People who have contemplated suicide. People who know they’re using substances more than they should as a coping mechanism,” she said.
One of those coping mechanisms is drinking alcohol. With reports of alcohol sales increasing nearly 60% during the stay-at-home order, Caraway says more people have normalized day drinking to help cope with the stress.
“It’s turned into a real problem for people who may have drank in the past but it was sporadic and not all the time, and now if they lost their job and they’re drinking every day, we’ve seen a huge increase of people come to our agency for alcohol use,” Caraway said.
She says that stigma and shame are common reasons why people are afraid to speak about suicide.
Caraway suggests talking to loved ones if we notice unusual signs or behaviors.
“I’ve heard parents say that if I ask the question it will give my kid an idea. That’s false. People think about taking their life more often than none at some point in their lives,” she said.
There are positive ways to exercise good mental health during the pandemic.
“The coping mechanisms that we have to start employing are getting outside and walking, labor, working out, yoga, listening to positive music, talking to friends, rather, if it’s remote or via the phone,” she said.
Another resource is the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to a professional 24/7.
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