Suicide prevention, mental health and the global pandemic

Brayden Stephenson, Editor

This year brought many unforeseen challenges to the world, and for many people battling a global pandemic didn’t just mean contracting a virus: The fear of losing loved ones, being forced to self-isolate and social distance, and losing the opportunity to experience things like high school graduations, were all secondary side effects of Covid-19. Managing all of this along with the pressure of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, addiction and suicidal thoughts, underscores related potential negative mental health effects.

According to the Journal of the American Medicine, suicide rates have been rising in the United States over the last two decades. This has many people wondering how the Covid-19 virus is affecting mental health. The CDC reported that 40.9% of adults had at least one mental health effect as a secondary effect of the virus. While the CDC is working to implement safety measures around living with a pandemic, it has also made it clear that mental health precautions are just as important, stating “the potential for adverse outcomes on suicide risk is high.”

Plenty of college students were hit hard by the mental health effects of the quarantine. Forced to move home after they’d just made friends and built a community at their school made many feel alone and scared.

“As someone who struggles with things like anxiety and depression, I’m really sensitive to the things going on around me. This made the quarantine feel really hard and scary,” a Sierra Nevada University student who chose to remain anonymous said. “I’ve faced suicidal thoughts in the past and it really didn’t feel okay or normal to openly talk about it, but I’m thankful to see more people working to break the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide.”

With the end of September also comes the end of Suicide Prevention Month, dedicated to raising awareness around suicide prevention, mental health issues, and seeking help when it’s needed. Like most other events in 2020, plans for Suicide Prevention Month looked a little different, but that didn’t stop Florida based non-profit, To Write Love on Her Arms.

To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), is a non-profit movement whose mission is to bring hope to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA, is also known for their efforts to help others find a way to treatment and therapy. For obvious reasons, Suicide Prevention Month is one of TWLOHA’s most important projects of the year.

“Every year, in the weeks leading up to World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, we build a campaign around a statement or phrase that we believe in. The words we choose guide our hopes and dreams for a future where you and anyone struggling choose to stay alive,” said Jaime Tworkowski, TWLOHA founder.

This year’s campaign is “Worth Living For.” For much of the world, 2020 felt like too much. Navigating a global pandemic and an increasingly divisive election made this year the perfect storm for anyone battling mental health issues. TWLOHA challenged its following to look for the things that make all the bad worth it.

“Eight-hundred thousand people die by suicide globally each year,” Tworkowski said. “With this new World Suicide Prevention Day campaign, we want to see those numbers change. We believe it’s possible. We believe it starts with inviting you to consider the things worth living for.”

This year TWLOHA helped raise $265,000, which enabled it to fund 3,750 counseling sessions for those in need. The “Worth Living For” campaign reached more than 114 million people.

Mental health resources are made available for SNU students, including counseling. Visit. 

TWLOHA want’s the readers to know that hope is real, help is real and your story is important. If you or someone you know is struggling, help can be found. Text TWLOHA to 741741 or check out the resources below.

If you need immediate help 24 hours a day:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
  • The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386