The coronavirus outbreak has upended nearly every aspect of people's lives — and their mental health is no exception. A recent paper in JAMA Psychiatry speculates that the risk of suicide may rise in the U.S. during the pandemic, as people increasingly grapple with economic challenges, social isolation, decreased access to community and religious support, and other daily disruptions. If you’d like to make a difference that can literally save lives, here are four exceptional ways in which to help.
Knowledge is key
Understanding the risks and trends associated with depression and suicide may help you understand when and how to intervene. Here are 7 things you should know about depression from AARP, along with tools and resources to help you assess an older adult’s mental health needs and a study showing how online mental health treatment can help.
Volunteer to get the word out
One of the best ways to help reduce suicide rates is to spread the word about the cause as a volunteer. With the Jed Foundation you can help raise mental health awareness so that teens and young adults can feel more comfortable getting the help they need. Another way to make a difference without necessarily making a major time commitment, is to advocate on behalf of the Treatment Advocacy Center.
Get the training you need
Identifying risks and sharing information are two great ways to potentially save a life, but if you want to make an impact one-on-one, volunteer organizations will want to ensure you’re properly trained. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has multiple resources to get volunteers started down the right path. Some organizations offer certification programs for suicide prevention, and many of the links within this article will direct you to volunteer opportunities with built-in training programs.
Make a direct impact
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can connect you with opportunities to support local crisis centers from coast to coast. They provide free, confidential, emotional support around the clock, every day of the week. With the Crisis Text Line, you can volunteer to be a crisis counselor from anywhere there’s an internet connection. It’s an especially profound way for night owls to make a life-changing difference. With the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, you can access free resources to help ensure your community is prepared. And for educators, MindWise Innovations has suicide prevention programs that can be implemented in one classroom period.
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