Data shows uptick in suicides amid pandemic, experts say

Identify the warning signs before it’s too late

SAN ANTONIO – Researchers say the ongoing trying times have led to increased suicides throughout the nation and in the San Antonio area.

Mental health care professionals at The Ecumenical Center, which provides counseling services, said they’re seeing a drastic increase in people reaching out in a crisis, with some threatening or attempting to kill themselves. Other research data shows a grim projection for suicides by the end of the year.

San Antonio psychologist predicts increase in suicidal thinking as pandemic progresses

“According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, over half of Americans have reported the coronavirus crisis as harming their mental health and needing more assistance,” said Mary Beth Fisk, CEO of The Ecumenical Center. “(It’s) largely due to many factors, not just one that would include things like unemployment, social isolation.”

Fisk said because data is still being compiled, its too early to tell precisely how much the pandemic has led to increased suicides in our area, though it’s clear it’s had a drastic impact.

“We’ve seen here a 65% increase in those reaching out from our community for support,” Fisk said.

An ABC news article published earlier this month projected a possible 20% to 30% national increase in suicides this year because of COVID-19.

Fisk says it’s crucial to identify the warning signs in yourself and others.

“Things like giving away prized personal possessions. Also talking a lot about death and dying can be something you really need to pay attention to, saying goodbye to loved ones, as well as just a general depression where they detach and don’t seem to be interested in much,” Fisk said.

Fisk said she understands the pain is real, but changing your perspective is possible and important for those in crisis.

“Maybe it’s learning to play a musical instrument. There are things out there that you can do, and it’s important to remember how we need to be grateful for the blessings that we do have,” Fisk said.

The center is offering services virtually by phone, or an in-person appointment can be made where you can meet at one of dozens of locations throughout the city that may be more convenient for the person in crisis. The center is not currently doing in-home visits, due to COVID-19.

Those in need of services can call The Ecumenical Center at 210-616-0885 or visit ecrh.org.

About the Authors: