Suicide awareness month amid pandemic: Signs and who’s most affected

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BATH, N.Y. (WETM) – September is suicide awareness month and one local expert says the key signs of depression and suicide can easily be missed during these unprecedented times.

Since more people are staying home due to the pandemic, one of the key signs, withdrawal, may be overlooked according to the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Bath VA, Jennifer Haggerty.

She says suicide is the 10th leading cause of deaths in the U.S.

“Feeling like there’s no way out, increased anxiety and agitation, sleeplessness or mood swings, if they’re voicing feeling like they have no reason to live anymore,” said Haggerty.

Here are a few more common warning signs of depression or suicidal thoughts from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue

Increased:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation/Shame
  • Agitation/Anger
  • Relief/Sudden Improvement

Talks about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain

According to her statistics at the Bath VA, older veterans are more affected.

“I mean there’s a lot of different reasons for that, when we look at chronic pain, when we look at chronic illnesses,” said Haggerty. “But ultimately if you look at the overall numbers, we’re losing 20 veterans a day.”

However, she goes on to say that 90% of people who struggle with suicidal thoughts can fully recover with the proper treatment. She says the first step in helping someone who may be depressed or suicidal is to start a conversation. If you notice a loved one with those warning signs listed above, she says you should start an honest discussion.

For those having thoughts of suicide here’s the link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the phone number: (800) 273-8255.

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