Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Navigating a pandemic and national unrest may contribute to this troubling statistic, as fear and anxiety may overcome us as we’re trying to understand what’s happening around us. 

In addition, while social distancing is critical to curbing the spread of COVID-19 throughout our communities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report it can also exacerbate feelings of isolation and loneliness and increase stress and anxiety. 

Alyssa Van Duyse, an HSHS colleague and suicide prevention instructor certified by the national QPR Institute, said it’s important to not only take note of your own feelings during this uncertain time, but also of those around you. 

“The word ‘suicide’ is still thought of as taboo – especially in the Midwest because we’re not so great at talking about our feelings,” Van Duyse said. “That’s why it’s important to recognize the clues that a person may be contemplating suicide.”

Four ways someone will tell you they are contemplating suicide:
  1. They give a direct verbal clue by saying something like “I’m going to end it all,” or “I wish I were dead.”
  2. They give a coded verbal clue by saying something like “I’m tired of life. I just want out,” or “I can’t take it anymore.” 
  3. They exhibit behavioral clues like increased risk taking, self-injurious behavior or drug or alcohol use.
  4. They shoulder situational clues like being fired from a job, being diagnosed with a serious illness or being bullied or humiliated. 
During QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide prevention, Alyssa instructs participants to practice asking the question, “are you thinking about suicide?”

“If you practice it and ever have to use that phrase it won’t be so hard to ask,” she said. “Also, sometimes people who are considering suicide are relieved if you ask because it indicates that someone noticed their struggle.” 

If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or dial 9-1-1.

For more information about how you can help someone struggling with mental health, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Media Contact

Karen Kraus

Communications Department
HSHS Wisconsin
Office: (715) 717-4256 or (715) 717-4747
Karen.Kraus@hshs.org

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