During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, you may experience anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness and loneliness — to the point that those feelings become constant and overwhelming. Existing mental health conditions, including severe anxiety and major depression, may worsen. If you're feeling hopeless and having thoughts about suicide, or you're concerned about someone else, learn how to find help and restore hope.
Most often, suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling like you can't cope or recover when you're faced with what seems to be an overwhelming life situation. There's little data yet on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the suicide rate. But clearly the pandemic has added intense emotional and mental stress to the lives of people around the world. Fear, anxiety and depression can stem from a wide range of concerns and experiences, from personal and family issues to work-related stress.
Situations vary, but personal and family issues may include:
Depending on the type of job you have, examples of work-related issues include:
Whether you're having thoughts of suicide or know someone who feels suicidal, learn suicide warning signs and how to reach out for immediate help and professional treatment. You may save a life — your own or someone else's.
Suicide warning signs or suicidal thoughts include:
The unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, including little social interaction, may make it more challenging to identify those at risk of suicide. Warning signs aren't always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still reach out to others in a safe way and ask for help. Whether it's by phone, text or email or a trusted social media platform, don't be afraid to let others know that you're feeling overwhelmed and need support. At least get the conversation started.
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right away by taking one of these actions:
Even after the immediate crisis passes, seek help to get appropriate treatment for suicidal thoughts and feelings and learn effective coping strategies. Keep a list of resources and numbers readily available. On your list, include contact numbers for your doctors, mental health professionals and crisis centers, as well as trusted friends or loved ones.
If someone says he or she is thinking of suicide or behaves in a way that makes you think the person may be suicidal, don't play it down or ignore the situation. If you're concerned about a friend or loved one, consider these actions, depending on the situation:
If someone is posting suicidal messages on social media, many sites such as Facebook or Instagram offer options on how to respond — search the site for "suicide" or "suicide prevention." In urgent situations, in the U.S. call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for help.
During and after the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues need more attention to reduce the risk of suicide. Broadly, this means that public and private mental health services and individual providers need to be creative in finding, assessing and treating individuals at risk of suicide. This might include, for example, improving working conditions and providing more mental health services for workers on the front lines, encouraging scheduled breaks and taking time off, offering telehealth counseling, or providing food support and financial aid to those who have lost their jobs.
Individual action is important, too, especially during times when self-isolation and physical distancing are recommended. If you're concerned that someone is or might become depressed or suicidal:
You're not responsible for preventing someone from taking his or her own life — but your support and intervention may help the person see that other options are available to stay safe and get treatment.