During Stress of Pandemic, Know Suicide's Warning Signs

TUESDAY, Sept. 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Financial struggles, social isolation and anxiety are triggering feelings of hopelessness and helplessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it's important to know the warning signs when someone is contemplating suicide, an expert says.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released earlier this year showed a 25% rise in U.S. suicide rates over the past two decades, and suicide was already among the leading causes of death in the United States before the pandemic.

"It is extremely important for people to be aware of warning signs that indicate a friend or loved one may be at risk for suicide," said Nadine Chang, a clinical psychologist at Gracie Square Hospital in New York City.

"The key to suicide prevention is early identification of these warning signs. In the current environment, it is more important than ever that we check on loved ones. The clues are sometimes subtle, but being aware of warning signs can mean the difference between life and death," she said in a hospital news release.

Suicide warning signs include: changes in behavior; depression; lack of motivation; extreme reactions to challenges; making arrangements such as giving away possessions, getting financial affairs in order, writing a will; talking about suicide, and hoarding medications.

"Take these signs seriously," Chang said. "If you notice someone is in trouble, reach out and establish a connection. In cases of imminent danger, don't be afraid to call 911.

"Despite increases in research and funding for suicide prevention, we are still seeing suicide rates climb. Today people are experiencing job loss, financial stress, natural disasters and illness, any one of which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, the two strongest correlates for suicide," Chang added.

If you're having thoughts of suicide, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Other resources available 24/7 include The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on suicide prevention.

SOURCE: Gracie Square Hospital, news release, Sept. 24, 2020

Copyright ©2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.