Pandemic related stress can have a negative impact on mental health and many are worried this could lead to more suicides.
“During these times people are unsure where they can turn to for resources concerning mental health and suicide prevention, and so I think it’s just letting people know there’s a Utah Strong recovery project which is all geared towards people who have been affected mentally and emotionally by COVID-19," said Charity Jenson, a health educator with the Bear River Health Department.
According to Jenson, said the suicide rate in Utah for the year is slightly higher than last year at this time. She said the best way to raise suicide awareness is to be open and honest as a community and provide information about health and resources.
Utah Strong is a program in the state that is run under the Department of Human Services. The program receives funding to provide crisis counseling and emotional support for people recovering from various disasters.
Jess Walker, a crisis counselor with the program, said this year’s disaster is the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last four weeks from what I’ve heard from others on my team is that our state hotline has been extremely active and busy the whole time," Walker said.
According to Walker, the counselors for the program have a lot of prior experiences with social work and counseling.
Walker said a big contributing factor to suicidal thoughts may be general background stress from the pandemic, as well as what it has caused for jobs and financial strain, and the Utah Strong hotline is open to anyone struggling emotionally or mentally in any capacity.