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September is National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month: Learn More

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(WVVA) - The pandemic fuels fear of the unknown for many. Mental health professionals say it is reasonable to be overwhelmed right now, but a direct correlation to an increase in suicides is unknown,

"It's not uncommon, we need to be talking about it, we need to be assessing for it. Now we have the pandemic and we don't have data yet to know if there's an increased rate of suicide, but we do know there's an increase of depression," Dr. Emily Boothe, D.O. at the Behavioral Health Pavilion of the Virginias said.

"The folks that are in an increased rate of depression are folks that are experiencing financial distress secondary to the pandemic. So when we talk about suicide, one of the things we worry about is people who are isolated. They are an increase risk for suicide," Boothe said.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, averaging 132 per day, a statistic that pre-dates the pandemic.

"Suicide rates have been increasing even before the pandemic. Between 2001 and 2017 we saw a 31% increase in this country. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 34. It's the 4th leading cause of death for people aged 35 to 54," Boothe said.

"Males have higher rates of death by suicide, and females have higher rates of suicide attempts," she revealed.

"When we look at our adolescents that factors an increase risk of suicide attempts, or completed suicides is bullying. When we look at our LGBTQ community they are at higher risk as well," Boothe explained.

Dr. Boothe says help is available and it doesn't always mean admission to a mental health facility or medications. She says the road to recovery begins with the acknowledgement of emotions, especially if they negatively impact your ability to work, carry out activities of daily living, or your relationships.

"Therapy might be another valuable tool. Exercise, good nutrition, good social support and in-connection is also another major factor for improvement over time," she described.

Boothe is also emphasizing the importance of mental health conversations in the home. She encourages people who are not struggling to reach out to those who might be.

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the local crisis referral line at 304-325- HOPE (4681).

Star Connor

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