During the months of March and April, Colorado saw a drastic decrease in suicides.
Colorado saw a 40 percent decrease in suicides as social-distancing orders were issued to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to provisional death-certificate data from the Colorado State Health Department, as reported by The Denver Post.
However, the data does not indicate the overall mental health of Colorado residents during the pandemic and months of statewide lockdowns. Even though the number of suicides is down from 2019 levels, the Colorado Crisis Services saw an almost 48 percent increase in calls during March and April in comparison to last year—39,770 calls. Most callers were seeking help for depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
Social distancing guidelines have also pushed many from in-office therapy sessions to telehealth methods.
Additionally, experts expressed concerns that the fear and uncertainty caused by the pandemic will exacerbate an existing public health crisis, which could then increase suicides and mental health issues across the nation in the upcoming months.
In recent years, suicides have increased, from 1,175 deaths in 2017 to 1,287 deaths in 2019, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. But so far in 2020, the number of suicides is down this year, particularly during March and April when there were 139 such deaths compared to the 233 deaths during the same months in 2019, according to the data.
Experts also believe the pandemic could be creating a sense of belonging for individuals at-risk for suicide since mental health issues like depression and anxiety have normalized during these times. Even though suicide rates are down, experts caution that individuals are still experiencing issues with their mental health, such as depression and anxiety.
If you are experiencing mental health issues, feel overwhelmed, or are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK. You can also call Samaritans at 877-870-HOPE. You can also call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text "TALK" to 38255.
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