Quarantine has created a strain on all of us. If you see someone suffering, reach out

Quarantine has created a strain on all of us. If you see someone suffering, reach out

At the early part of June our nephew, just short of 27 years old, hung himself. The impact is devastating. We are bereft at the loss of this beautiful young man.

It has made me think about the impact of social isolation and the risk of suicide. I have seen in my practice increasing rates of depression and anxiety, especially in those who live alone or far away from family. Add to that the stress of losing a job or working an essential job that puts you at increased risk, along with decreased access to community support like churches or schools. And then, add a history of depression or other mental illness and/or drug abuse and you have the perfect storm.

Indeed, quarantine and social isolation have created a strain on all of us but especially on people who have a number of risk factors. Our nephew was such a person.

Suicide affects all classes, all ages, but especially teenagers and people over 65. One article claims that 2/3rds of high school students consider suicide.

Most people who attempt suicide have sent warning signs to those around them, although few make direct requests for help. Some worrisome signs are that they talk about death; they don’t answer their phone or reach out; they have mood swings; they give away their things, they have a history of suicide attempts or someone close to them has succeeded in committing suicide. Trust your gut – if you think someone might be in trouble, reach out.

Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are having thoughts of ending their life. If they say yes, take it seriously. Listen to them. Help them find help.

If you are feeling suicidal, help is available. Reach out please.

Here are some places to begin:

  • The local crisis line is 503-291-9111
  • National suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Oregon Youthline: 1-877-968-8491 or text: teen2teen to 839863, chat at oregonyouthline.org This is a free, confidential teen crisis line.

There are many on-line resources with information about what to do and when to seek help.

The impact of our nephew’s suicide on our family has been extremely traumatic. I am so sad that he felt so hopeless and alone, that we didn’t recognize the signs and that he didn’t reach out.

If you see someone suffering, reach out to them. If you are suffering, please reach out.

Dr. Jennifer Means welcomes you for Primary Care for the whole family: Nutrition, IV Therapy, Naturopathy, and Acupuncture. Contact us at 503-641-6400.