Canada’s National Observer: ‘COVID-19 kills in many ways’: The suicide crisis facing health-care workers. “In New York City, as in other hard-hit locations, health-care providers have been forced to work exhausting hours, often in overcrowded and under-resourced settings, with no clear end in sight, all while dealing with the fear of exposing themselves or their families to the virus. Without adequate protective gear, some New York City doctors describe going to work every day as a ‘suicide mission.’ At the same time, as hospitals have filled up with sick and dying patients, doctors have been left with the burden of making excruciating decisions about rationing life-saving medical equipment and watching as their colleagues fall ill and even die from the virus. These front-line health-care workers bear constant witness to the human toll of the pandemic. And, all too often, they become part of it.”
New York Times: Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Virus Patients Dies by Suicide. “A top emergency room doctor at a Manhattan hospital that treated many coronavirus patients died by suicide on Sunday, her father and the police said. Dr. Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died in Charlottesville, Va., where she was staying with family, her father said in an interview.”
Slate: Fear and Isolation May Not Actually Bring a Rise in Suicides. “Talking about mental health openly normalizes the fact that we are all anxious, and rightly so. Proactively focusing on coping techniques will likely lead to better outcomes. We can also address potential risk factors like isolation or substance use by minimizing them and naming them out loud. We can work to get people the help they need proactively and preventively, and not only during crisis. The COVID-19–induced shifts to telemedicine and online counseling may help people connect with needed resources even after the epidemic has waned and reduce some of the barriers and access to care. The narrative needs to shift from one of despair to one of hope. We can advocate for optimal mental health by investing financially in infrastructure, staffing, and systemic change while also emphasizing that we can and will get through this together and come out stronger. The message should be that staying home can save lives—and perhaps even just that little bit of altruism and collectivism could help us all get through this, together.”
Mashable: Why suicide risk may increase as we cope with COVID-19. “Trauma and grief follow in COVID-19’s wake as the disease destroys our collective sense of normalcy, kills thousands of Americans, and threatens to be deadly for a projected 60,000 people in the U.S. The loneliness, anxiety, and depression that, for some, accompany the pandemic has prompted concern about a brewing mental health crisis. Now, a new article published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that COVID-19 may lead to increased risk of suicide. The suicide rate, which is 14.2 per 100,000 people, has been rising steadily for years.” I wish I could give everyone who reads this a hug. Except those of y’all who don’t like hugs. For you, I wish I could stand a respectful distance away and tell you a funny joke. And if you don’t like being told funny jokes — well, I can’t do it and I’m not there now! Ain’t it great?
Mashable: This emoji could mean your suicide risk is high, according to AI. “Unlike helplines that offer assistance based on the order in which users dialed, texted, or messaged, Crisis Text Line has an algorithm that determines who is in most urgent need of counseling. The nonprofit is particularly interested in learning which emoji and words texters use when their suicide risk is high, so as to quickly connect them with a counselor. Crisis Text Line just released new insights about those patterns.”
CU Anschutz Medical Campus: Study Shows Promising New Web Approach to Prevent Firearm Suicide. “Access to firearms and other lethal methods of suicide during periods of risk can make it more likely that a suicide attempt will end in death. Yet many patients with suicidal thoughts or behaviors receive no counseling about this from healthcare providers, and many have questions about options for firearm or medication storage. To address the issue, clinicians and researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus partnered with Grit Digital Health. The team created Lock to Live, a web resource to help suicidal adults – and family, friends or providers – make decisions about reducing access to firearms, medications, and other potential suicide methods.”
EurekAlert: Can artificial intelligence help prevent suicides?. “According to the CDC, the suicide rate for individuals 10-24 years old has increased 56% between 2007 and 2017. In comparison to the general population, more than half of people experiencing homelessness have had thoughts of suicide or have attempted suicide, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council reported. Phebe Vayanos, assistant professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Computer Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering has been enlisting the help of a powerful ally -artificial intelligence- to help mitigate the risk of suicide.”