September is National Suicide Prevention Month - a time to share resources and information to shed light on this tragic yet highly stigmatized topic. We encourage you to use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide and raise awareness about treatment methods and services.
Mental health issues are rising among adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While measures like social distancing and work from home are proven to reduce the spread, the CDC says the “potential for adverse outcomes on suicide risk is high”.
This comes at a time when suicide rates are already on the rise. The Journal of the American Medicine says that suicide rates have been rising in the US over the last two decades-- with the most recent numbers showing the highest age-adjusted suicide rate since 1941.
The CDC reports that from June 24-30, 2020, US adults reported mental health conditions in higher numbers due to COVID-19. The CBD report shows that 40.9% of adults say they’ve had at least one mental health effect, including symptoms of anxiety or depression (30.9%), symptoms of trauma or stressor-related disorder (26.3%), and starting or increasing substance use to cope (13.3%).
Who is the Most At-Risk?
Certain populations are more at risk for potential suicidal thoughts, according to a recent report from the New England Journal of Medicine. These populations include younger people between ages 18-24, essential workers, and minority racial/ethnic groups. Another population of concern are the elderly, many of whom find themselves in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.
This is because these populations have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, creating higher levels of stress that can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Can CBD Help?
Previous studies suggested a link between anxiety disorders and suicide attempts. CBD has been shown to help reduce anxiety, as well as several other personality disorders, including panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
However, the results could not confirm that treatment with CBD would have comparable effects for those with chronic anxiety, depression, or stress. While CBD is a great resource for those experiencing more mild forms of these conditions and are beneficial in early stages, if they become life-threatening, please reach out to a professional for help.
Learning to recognize the warning signs of suicide, combined with expressing caring concern and connecting individuals with resources and professional help, can be lifesaving.
Warning signs for suicide (adapted from a list from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) can include:
Verbal or written words about: Suicide, Hopelessness, No Reason to Live, Being a Burden on Others, Feeling trapped, Unbearable Pain
Behaviors such as: Increased use of alcohol or drugs, Withdrawal from usual activities, Searching for way to end life, Isolating from family or friends, Highly worrisome changes in behavior
Mood: Depression, Anxiety, Loss of interest, Irritability, Humiliation/Shame, Agitation/Anger, Relief/Sudden Improvement
Moreover, those in the United States may seek help from support groups and organizations, such as: