Suicide rates during pandemic decreased nationally, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports

People rallying together in support seen as one reason for the decrease in suicides

SAN ANTONIO – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports national figures show that the suicide rate in the U.S. has declined 6% since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The finding supports those in a study by the National Institutes of Health showing similar decreases, so far, worldwide.

An excerpt from the NIH study states, “In contrast to alarmist predictions of increasing rates of suicide as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, overall rates actually declined or at worst stayed stable.”

In its statement, the AFSP said experts point to how during times of crisis, such as a pandemic or war, “people tend to rally around each other.”

Dr. Christine Yu Moutier, AFSP chief medical officer, is quoted in a recent article, saying, “Community cohesion and sense of belonging is a very potent protective factor against suicide risk, along with other experiences like connecting to support and mental health service.”

As someone who lost their brother to suicide last year, Christian Bove, a local executive, said he’s surprised to hear the national suicide rate is down.

“If that’s the case, even if they have or remaining steady, it’s still way too many,” Bove said. “Obviously, one is too many, much less the thousands that we’re seeing, you know, daily and weekly.”

“What I’ve told people is just be open with your friends and family. If you need help, if you need support, never think that they’re too busy for you. You know, they’re there for you,” he said.

Bove also addressed those who may be concerned about their loved one or friend.

“Don’t hesitate to reach out,” he said.

For more information on suicide warning signs, click here.

If you spot warning signs, the following are ways to help:

  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Take the person to an emergency room, or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

The number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. The help line is available 24 hours a day.

Click here for resources from the Texas Suicide Prevention Collaborative.

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.