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Memorial Day is a time to honor our brave service men and women who have sacrificed their own lives in order to serve our country. In the past, we fantasized about the long weekend ahead full of barbecues, parties, mini-getaways, three- day weekends. So many times, we have honored the fallen with our lips, but we often got caught up in the beautiful weather and family outings, and all of the fun that goes along with it. We forgot the reason why celebrate the holiday in the first place.
Now that the pandemic has put a damper on some of our Memorial Day celebrations, we are stuck celebrating another holiday that doesn’t really feel like a holiday at all. And perhaps there’s a purpose to the madness, even though the weekend has a morose feeling to it. Not only have so many service members lost their lives in war, but many of them have lost their lives by their own hands. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious problem amongst our military members, and unfortunately suicide seemed like the only way out for many of them. This is not something that should be brushed over or ignored. It’s a serious problem, and maybe it feels even more serious today, since civilian suicides are also on the rise during COVID-19.
While we can’t compare the pain and suffering that service members felt that led them to commit suicide, we can acknowledge that suicide is a serious problem that is affecting everyone from every age group, and has only become more of a problem since the start of the pandemic. Isolation, feelings of loneliness, a lack of human connection, job losses, and political unrest are only a few of the triggers that have led to an increase in suicide rates.
The Washington Post asserts that, “Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental-health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post- traumatic stress disorder, and suicide.” Nearly half of Americans, according to the same source, report that the virus is having a negative effect on their mental health. Counselors are reporting a huge influx of calls to their offices related to the pandemic. Those who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are facing their worst nightmare. Obsessive hand-washing and negative behaviors that these individuals have worked so hard to overcome are now policies and requirements, put in place by government, and are no longer just part of one’s own mental illness.
So, what can be done to combat this frightening trend of increased mental illness, and how can we help those who are contemplating suicide?
1. If You Feel Suicidal, Call Someone Immediately. Call the suicide national hotline at #1800-273-8255. This hotline provides emotional support to those in need. They also work with veterans especially, who may be more at risk during this time.
2. Get in Contact with a Counselor or Physician. Straight Talk Clinic provides excellent teletherapy services from the comfort of your own home. Services are provided in both English and Spanish, and we work to set you up with a therapist who understands your specific needs.
3. Keep in Contact with Friends. When you feel suicidal, the last thing you want to do is talk to anyone, especially a friend or family member. But the best thing you can do is to talk to someone who can show you how much you mean to them and how valuable you are. Remember that you are important and your life matters to those around you.
4. Remember That You Have a Purpose. Your job, your home, and even your friends don’t define who you are. You have a purpose in live, whether there is a coronavirus or not. The virus will come and go, but your purpose will live on forever. Start journaling and writing down things you want to do with your life, regardless of the virus. Write a book about your feelings and your experience. This can be very therapeutic.
5. If You Feel Suicidal Right Now, Call 911. Don’t wait to get help. You are valuable and hurting yourself is not the answer. There are so many different services available out there to help you get through this difficult time. Suicide is not the answer.
Memorial Day is a time to honor the fallen, and to remember those who have struggled with PTSD or those who have died in the line of duty. Regardless of how service members have died, we can honor them by fighting against suicidal impulses and helping to improve mental health for the entire community.