Suicide rates in New York could spike due to pandemic

Originally posted on CNYCentral, September 23, 2020
To read, please click here: Suicide rates in New York could spike due to pandemic

The CDC reports back in 2018, 1,723 people took their lives in New York, averaging to one death by suicide every 5 hours in the state.

But being in the midst of a pandemic, health experts think that number could drastically go up.

Doctor Ahmed Nizar at St. Joseph’s Hospital said, “I would say that numbers will be going up. Unfortunately, people who are trying to hurt themselves is going up.”

For Contact Community Services, a 24-hour crisis support line, they average between 200 and 350 calls a day. But when the pandemic hit, that number reached over 450 a day.

Cheryl Giarrusso, the Director of crisis intervention services said, “once COVID hit, we really began to see a dramatic increase in call volume.”

She says, at first, the calls centered around meeting basic needs rather than life-threatening concerns. But now that call volume has gone back to normal, the types of calls have intensified, with more thoughts surrounding suicide.

“They’re worried about the same things they were worried about initially, but there’s no end in sight,” Giarrusso said.

Doctor Nizar says, without that end in sight, they’re seeing more first-time patients who are struggling, than ever before.

He said, “all of these restrictions in regards to being able to go out and see their treatment team, relying on emergency room services and meeting people who they haven’t seen before, there are huge concerns there.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, the national suicide prevention hotline is 800-273-8255.