The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant changes to people's daily lives, including increased isolation, job loss, financial stress, and fear of illness or death. These factors have had a severe impact on mental health and have contributed to a rise in suicide rates globally. Social distancing and self-isolation measures made it difficult for people to access support services and stay connected with their loved ones. This felt sense of prolong isolation can exacerbate existing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, leading to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. The pandemic itself has also caused a surge in addictions, as people turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with stress and uncertainty. Substance abuse and addiction can further worsen mental health, increase suicidal ideation, and increase the risk of death from overdose. Additionally, the pandemic has caused significant recent losses in people's lives, whether it be the loss of a job, a loved one, or even a sense of normalcy. Grief and trauma resulting from these losses can contribute to suicidal ideation.
It's essential to acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on mental health and take steps to prevent suicides. Promoting mental health awareness and providing accessible support services can help individuals navigate these challenging times and prevent the contagion effect of suicide from spreading through communities.
The pandemic has brought with it a silent epidemic of despair and hopelessness, and a record-high suicide rate. As the world grapples with the after effects of the pandemic, many are left still feeling isolated, lonely, and overwhelmed, making them more vulnerable to suicide. The social and economic costs of the pandemic have only compounded the problem, leaving countless individuals feeling helpless and without hope. This blog post will take a look at the growing suicide rate and explore the various factors contributing to this devastating issue.
Here we can see the effects of the pandemic on national suicide rates in Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/suicide-prevention/suicide-canada.html
Understanding Suicide as a Response to Pain
Suicide is a tragic and devastating act that affects not only the individual who takes their own life but also their loved ones and the larger community. Suicide is often a result of complex factors, including mental health issues, past traumas, feelings of hopelessness, addictions, situational reactions. Health Canada reports the following factors that increase the risk for suicide:
"a prior suicide attempt
mental illness like depression
a sense of hopelessness or helplessness
this means that you believe your life or current situation won’t improve
chronic (long-term) physical pain or illness
trauma, for example:
victimization, like bullying
childhood abuse or neglect
suicide by a family member or friend
events that affect multiple generations of your family
Other factors that can increase the risk of suicide include:
significant loss, including:
financial (job loss)
major life changes or stressors, such as:
poor physical health or physical illness
the death of a loved one
lack of access to or availability of mental health services
personal identity struggles (sexual, cultural)
lack of support from family, friends or your community
sense of isolation"
One thing that must be identified is that suicide screening lacks predictiability, but knowing these factors can lead to foreseeability.
The rise of suicide rates post-pandemic
The pandemic has brought about numerous challenges for people across the world, including an increase in mental health concerns. One of the most significant consequences of the pandemic has been the rise in suicide rates. Research has suggested that there has been a potential increase in the number of suicides, particularly among young people and healthcare workers who were exposed daily to the traumatic and grieving effects of the pandemic in people lives. The reasons behind this increase are multifactorial and complex. Firstly, prolonged isolation and loneliness, combined with anxiety and stress, can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. The lockdown measures and social distancing requirements have created a sense of detachment from loved ones and disrupted the usual routines and activities that many people rely on for a sense of normalcy. Moreover, people with pre-existing mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, have been more vulnerable to the stressors brought about by the pandemic. Those with addictions or substance abuse problems have also found it challenging to cope, and many have resorted to suicidal thoughts or actions.
Coping strategies and support for individuals experiencing suicidal ideation
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal ideation, it's essential to seek help immediately. There are various coping strategies and support available to help individuals overcome their struggles. One of the most effective ways to cope with suicidal thoughts is by seeking professional help. Mental health professionals can offer counseling and support that can help individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms and reduce suicidal tendencies.
Aside from professional help, self-care can also play a crucial role in reducing suicidal thoughts. Activities such as meditation, exercise, and getting enough rest can help individuals manage stress and anxiety, two leading causes of suicidal thoughts. Maintaining healthy relationships and staying connected to a support system can also provide a sense of belonging, helping individuals find a sense of purpose and reducing feelings of hopelessness.
In addition to these strategies, there are also various suicide prevention hotlines and resources available for those in crisis. These hotlines can offer immediate support and help connect individuals to the necessary resources for their mental health care. Remember that there is always hope, and seeking help is a sign of strength.
Role of mental health professionals in preventing suicide during & post-pandemic
Mental health professionals play a crucial role in preventing suicide during and post-pandemic. These professionals can provide individuals with support and guidance through counseling and therapy. It is important for individuals who are experiencing suicidal thoughts to reach out for help and to receive treatment from a licensed mental health professional.
During the pandemic, many mental health professionals have transitioned to offering teletherapy services, which provide individuals with the ability to receive mental health care from the comfort of their own home. Teletherapy has made it possible for individuals to access care who may not have been able to do so in the past.
It is also important for mental health professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest research and information on suicide prevention and to advocate for policies that prioritize mental health. Additionally, mental health professionals can work with community organizations to promote mental health and suicide prevention resources.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support 24/7 at 18334564566. ~ Talk suicide Canada