UK professor says calls to suicide crisis numbers up since March

Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 3:24 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are focused on keeping our physical health in check. But what about our mental health?

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US according to the University of Kentucky.

Half of the population knows someone who has died. It kills around 48,000 people a year, and, according to UK professor Julie Cerel, Kentucky has the twenty-first worst rate in the county.

"That means that we lose about 800 people in Kentucky every year to suicide," Cerel says.

Cerel says we don't know how to predict who is most at risk. Still, she says if someone faces uncertainty it can play a part.... and uncertainty seems to be one of the only things we do know during this new normal.

“The percentage of people that lost jobs or who are having food insecurity is staggering, but also people have social insecurity. Will kids start back at school? Will they go back to college? Will people be able to go to our normal social events, and when is that going to happen?,” Cerel says.

Plus, she says social isolation can be crippling.

"Especially when depression is telling you that you're not worthy, and that you don't need to be the one reaching out, and that no one cares about you," Cerel says.

Cerel says calls to crisis numbers have gone up since March. She shares it’s possible the suicide rate has also increased, although this information is typically not available for at least a year.

What can you do if you or a loved one needs help? Cerel says have a conversation. If you don’t know what to say, she advises calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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