With everyone sitting at home, having binge-watched everything they cared to by now and pretty tired of debating whether Carole Baskin murdered her husband or not–everyone knows that she did–folks are starting to get sick of it. Stuck inside all day, never seeing anyone but your family if you have one, and your only outside contact is via social media, it wears on a person.
Locking down so much of the country may have been the only alternative, but there are side effects to that decision. In fact, it seems the suicide hotline is dealing with a lot of that right now.
Jobs disappearing, businesses shutting down, and separation from friends and family due to COVID-19 have placed an uncomfortable, emotional strain on people. Some describe feelings of unmanageable stress, isolation sadness and thoughts of being trapped or powerless.
With that, Former Congressman Patrick J Kennedy says calls at suicide hotlines have increased by 800 percent as resources shift to COVID-19 relief. The mental health advocate sounded the alarm at a Metro Nashville news conference, raising the question – Will the silent killer of mental illness be our country’s next major crisis?
“The tragedy of COVID is it exacerbates this already prevalent mental health and addiction crisis. No one doubts that mental health and addiction is real,” Kennedy commented. “Every single American has been faced with a mental health issue in this COVID crisis, themselves, not just a family member, but themselves.”
His short answer: yes. Kennedy believes mental illness and addiction crises are right underneath the COVID-19 emergency, not waiting to creep out.
“We ought to be concerned about people dying. Whether they’re dying of the COVID or whether they’re dying of overdose, it’s still a death and there’s not one that’s worse than the other because both deaths rob families and a loved one, and they ought to be paid attention to,” Kennedy said.
He’s not necessarily wrong. A death is a death. Does it really matter that much if your loved one is dead because of the disease, or the lockdown? In the grand scheme of things, it probably wouldn’t matter that much to me.
Where the debate falls is whether more people will die from suicides due to the quarantine than from COVID-19.
Honestly, I don’t know and I’m not going to speculate on it. I just don’t have enough data to make an informed decision either way. What I do know, however, is that this problem shouldn’t be dismissed or discounted. We can’t afford to just pretend that no one is dealing with this, especially in the firearm community.
The truth is, any spike in suicides with a firearm will be attributed to the recent spike in gun sales rather than folks being locked up in their homes all day.
So what can you do?
First, call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. That should probably be your first stop if you’re feeling suicidal.
If you’re not there but are feeling depressed, then you need to take steps. First, your depression might stem from a vitamin D deficiency since, let’s face it, you’re not out in the sun anymore. If you can, go outside and work in the yard or hell, just sit on the porch. Breath some fresh air. Many places still permit you to take a walk and enjoy nature, just so long as you continue to engage in social distancing.
But first and foremost, talk to someone. Don’t suffer alone because you’re not alone. A lot of us are suffering through this too, so we get it. Talk to someone and get help.
Don’t become a statistic.