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Suicides in Arizona Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Suicide Helping Hands

For everyone in Phoenix and throughout Arizona, we are all dealing with the new reality of living with COVID-19 in some form or another. From lost jobs, grieving loved ones, canceled events, and self-isolation, our lives are each effected in some way. It has not been easy for anyone and the longer it goes, the problems for some can compound one upon another. For some among us, it will seem like suicide is the only way out.

In recent news, Arizona call centers for people with anxiety or thoughts of suicide have experienced a higher influx of people needing to talk with a counselor. For those considering suicide, problems have quickly compounded to such an extent that they see no way out of the life they are living and no reality beyond the one they are in. Problems can include:

  • Jobs lost
  • Fears of what may come such as losing homes or unable to pay utilities
  • Health concerns
  • Separation from friends and family
  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Feeling trapped inside
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Not knowing how long this will go
  • living in an abusive environment
  • financial crisis
  • anxiety and stress
  • loneliness

All of us here in Phoenix have been dealing with some of these issues in one form or another and have had to create our own coping skills to deal with our feelings and the issues we face. Even before self-isolation, some of us have also been struggling with mental health problems, addictions, or paying bills and now, without the ready support of friends and family nearby, all these problems can be heightened and suicide starts looking like a good way out of a life we no longer want.

Ways we can each cope and help one another

During a crisis, the situations we are in can feel like they will go on forever and it is easy to tell ourselves a story that fills us with grief and anxiety while not seeing any way out. Even for those with good coping skills and a supportive environment, such a drastic change in lifestyle can be overwhelming. A person who is feeling anxious and someone with thoughts of suicide is not a clear-cut line – there is a whole spectrum of stress people are dealing with. A friend or family member who seems to be dealing with the crisis well may still feel the darkness closing in.

Even while we need to stay far apart from one another, there are still ways we can come together, ways we can cope with the anxiety in ourselves and help those we care about. Whether someone is dealing with thoughts of suicide or simply wants out of the house to be with other people, we can reach out to lift another’s spirits and by doing so, lift our own. Actions you can take today include:

  • Check in with other people: Take the time to call or video chat with a friend, family member, or neighbor. Just talking with another person and getting to share how you’re doing can be a huge mood lifter in these times.
  • Find ways to connect: Even though we can’t sit down together, we can still find ways to connect with supportive people. Reading to a grandchild over video, playing online games, sending mail or packages, or waving through windows can remind us we are not alone.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercising can lift our moods and keep us healthy
  • Stick to a routine: Having a predictable routine gives us a sense of control, certainty, and choice. This is especially helpful if our routine includes progressing on a project or learning a new skill – anything that helps us remember there is a future once this pandemic is past.
  • Limit your intake of news: The news is designed to be attention grabbing as well as informative. While news stories can be helpful in finding resources, they can also paint a grim picture and make the world seem much darker than it actually is. Look also for the uplifting stories and the news of people helping each other.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol influences our moods and emotions. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or depression, avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Lock up weapons and guns: If you have someone in your household thinking of committing suicide, remove any threats such as guns or pills or lock them away.
  • Call for help: Though we are isolating, help is still available. You are not alone. Crisis lines are still there to talk with people. Whether you are having thoughts of suicide or just need another person on the other end of the line, people are there to help you. Call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Help is a phone call away

Here in Phoenix, Arizona, help for anxiety or suicidal thoughts is just a short call away. Counselors are there to talk with people who need a listening ear, a connection to resources, or a supportive shoulder to lean on whether you are going through a difficult time or are considering suicide. You are never alone.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Crisis Response Network: Crisis Response Network, Inc., the Arizona call center for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, operates a crisis response hotline and a continuum of crisis services 24/7/365 to anyone who may be experiencing a behavioral health emergency. Our services also include dispatching of mobile response teams, and SMI Eligibility Determination for the State of Arizona. The local number is (602) 770-4972.

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