With suicide rates rising, mental health experts look to new ways to help people find healing

The SCMDH-DAODAS mental health questionnaire can connect a person to a mental health expert online

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — More South Carolinians have been calling mental health providers with concerns about loved ones contemplating suicide.

Experts say the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are partly to blame for this uptick.

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, mental health experts have been hearing about people who are struggling with anxiety, addiction, and depression for the first time. 

Based on county-level data, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) says there has been a slight increase in the number of suicides throughout South Carolina.

“We can’t attribute that to only the pandemic,” said Jennifer Butler, the Director of SCDMH’s Office of Suicide Prevention “Suicide is a multi-layered problem, just as our many public health issues.”

To give people access to the help they need without leaving the house, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) created an online questionnaire that can instantly connect someone to a mental health professional.

“This has been another blessing in terms of being able to reach people who may be in rural South Carolina, who may not have transportation, or who may have paralyzing anxiety that prevents them from being able to come on out to a clinic, so being able to access them in this way really does open a door for them to be able to recover and healing from a lot of these struggles,” Butler said.

Butler says even as 2020 comes to a close, she says one thing that could make the difference in someone’s life is just being there for them.

“Even as we come on the other side of this, we need to not lose sight of how much we need connection with each other.”

On Saturday, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) will host a virtual Survivors Day events, where people will discuss the impact of suicide on their lives. To register, click here.

The 24-hour Suicide Hotline number is (800) 273-8255. For more resources on coping with stress and anxiety during the pandemic, click here.

Categories: Local News, News