The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on many stressors, including emotional hardships that can impact the overall health and mental well-being of Arizonans. While measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 such as physical distancing are necessary, it has never been more important for us to stay connected to the people we care about.
Feelings of loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression can affect people of all ages and can be risk factors for mental health disorders and even suicide. Last year, we lost over 1,400 lives to suicide in Arizona, and many more experienced thoughts of suicide. Some groups of Arizonans carry a higher burden of suicide, including males over the age of 65, veterans, those living in rural settings and American Indians.
Throughout Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we have highlighted the need to identify warning signs of suicide and shared resources for support to address this complex and preventable public health problem.
Everyone has a role to play in prevention. You may have a friend or family member who is struggling, and you can #BeThe1To reach out and connect.
It is important to know immediate help is available:
• If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “TALK” to 741-741
• Chat: Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat.
• Many counselors or other behavioral health professionals may be available through telehealth services.
• Individuals in crisis can reach out for additional support through: Resilient Arizona: Crisis Counseling Program (dial 211); Be Connected Support Line 1-866-4AZ-VETS (429-8387) for Arizona veterans; Teen Lifeline 800-248-TEEN(8336); and Trevor Project Lifeline (1-866-488-7386) for LGBTQ youth.
• School staff can access mental health and suicide prevention resources through the Healthy Kids AZ Mobile App.
Visit ArizonaTogether.org for community resources and services to support individuals and families in need. We need each other now more than ever!
Dr. Cara Christ is director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Visit azdhs.gov.