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Public Health Advisory: Increased Suicide Risk
November 18, 2020
Since August of 2020, there have been four student suicides in Snohomish County reported to public health. These tragedies appear to be unrelated to one another and are an increase from recent months and from the same time period last year. Local data and disaster research suggest that suicide rates throughout our population may rise as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The purpose of this health advisory is to highlight best practices and support the community in promoting well-being and safety. The COVID pandemic and civil unrest in our country has increased uncertainty for all of us, including our youth, and we cannot underestimate the impact. Physical and social distancing, increased isolation as cold weather approaches, school concerns, changes in relationships, and worries for family and friend’s health and the future of our country all contribute toward increased anxiety and despair. We must work to mitigate this to prevent further tragedy. This health advisory addresses the increased behavioral health challenges during this disillusionment phase of disaster response and provides resources.
This is a difficult time for everyone. The on-going pandemic and the corresponding exhaustion and emotional fatigue that we are feeling continues, combined with seasonal changes and more difficulty connecting with the people and supports that typically help us cope. Young people may be even more at risk due to less access to their typical social networks. Please review or re-review the following guidance:
For the community:
Additional Recommendations for Prevention
We cannot overstate the impact of stress, grief, loneliness, trauma, fear, anxiety and hopelessness that most of us have experienced at some time during this pandemic, nor can we say enough about the disproportionate burden that some segments of our society bear throughout this crisis and beyond. Please remember that our youth feel this, too. We must acknowledge the profound impact this experience has on each of us, be patient with ourselves and others, work to embrace each other, and cultivate our desires and create space for creativity, generativity, and hope.
Contributed by Wendy Burchill, Healthy Communities Specialist, Child Death Review Coordinator and Injury Prevention, Snohomish Health District