Mental health experts brace for increase in suicides


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this has been a stressful time for many.

More than 530,000 Tennesseans have filed for unemployment since March 15. The added finical stress on families, during an already difficult time with the pandemic, has mental health experts bracing for a new wave of patients.

As a psychiatric nurse practitioner at TriStar Skyline Medical Center, Shawn Brady says the reason for the increase is clear, and now is the time to be mindful of your mental health.

“I’ve definitely seen an increase of mental health patients,” said Brady, “So many people have lost their jobs because they were considered non-essential workers. It’s something with the times that we’re living in, the pandemic, that it was necessary but it still caused a lot of harm to people.”

Job loss, increased debt, and eviction caused by recessions have historically led to an increased number of suicides. Following the 2008 economic crisis, the suicide rate nearly doubled in the United States.

A study published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry states, “It can be said that the results of this study are consistent with the information which emphasizes that economic crises increase suicide cases in the literature.”

On top of financial stress, people are also anxious about the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say it’s so important to reach out now.

“White knuckling, trying to work through something yourself is the absolute worst thing you can do,” said Brady.

Brady also acknowledges finding the help you need proves to be more challenging with closures and social distancing.

“A lot of the walk-in type facilities are not accepting, or they’re doing a lot more screening prior to accepting, so it’s becoming more difficult.”

If you know where to look, the help is there. Brady suggests coming to the emergency room if you need immediate assistance. Or, consider telehealth.

“Whether it’s therapy, medication, phycological assessment all these different things have really moved to a telehealth-centric paradigm,” explained Brady.

Most importantly, Brady said do not suffer alone, “It’s so important to talk about it [and] to get it outside of yourself.”

Hospitals have mental health hotlines:

  • 615-327-7000, Vanderbilt Behavior Health
  • 877-342-1450, TriStar Skyline Outpatient Program

Most are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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