A recent study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention paints a stark picture of mental health issues resulting from COVID-19.

The research reveals that 40 percent*of adults have experienced mental health issues or challenges tied to the coronavirus crisis. Younger adults, however, are experiencing far worse mental health outcomes – with one in four* revealing they have considered suicide during the course of the pandemic.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide was already the 10th-leading** cause of death in 2019, and the second-leading cause of death in adolescents.

On average, 132 Americans died by suicide each day. The uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 could have a profound impact on those statistics in 2020, particularly for younger adults.

However, while these trends are troubling, an increased suicide rate isn’t an inevitable outcome. Increased attention to mental health issues can make a real difference.

Clearly, the virus is no longer just a threat to physical health. It now also poses a major risk to mental health, as the impact of lockdown increases anxiety and depression among young adults in particular.

This is a time of unprecedented upheaval. Many people are physically isolated. We all should be concerned about the loneliness, anxiety and depression that, for some, accompany COVID-19.

Supporting the most vulnerable

As the pandemic persists, New York Life is dedicated to being there when people need us most. As part of our work to support childhood bereavement, the New York Life Foundation has invested in The Trauma and Grief (TAG) Center at The Hackett Center for Mental Health, which aims to foster resiliency in children and young adults exposed to trauma and loss.

Founded by New York Life Foundation partner Julie Kaplow, PhD, ABPP, the TAG Center specializes in childhood trauma and bereavement. If you’re worried about how your children might be dealing with the pandemic, Julie shares her insights and advice in this brochure and interview – How Do We Support Our Children During A Pandemic – to help them adjust in these stressful times.

A few of Dr. Kaplow’s tips when talking to your child about a suicide death include:

  • Giving children truthful, age-appropriate information about a suicide death, caregivers can help their children to grieve in normal and healthy ways.
  •  When explaining a suicide death to children, it is helpful to use clear, simple language, while also thinking about their developmental stage (what they can understand) and their own individual grief reactions.
  • After giving basic information and facts about how the person died, it is helpful to let your child ask questions and let them guide the conversation so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • It can be helpful to let children know that it is common for people to have many different feelings after a suicide death and that it is okay to express them.
  • Remember that your job is not to completely take away your child’s pain (grief is a naturally painful experience). Instead, your role is to help your child to share whatever thoughts or feelings they may have, and to feel understood and safe in doing so.

Supporting our veterans

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the suicide rate is also 1.5 times higher for veterans than for non-veteran adults. That’s why the New York life Foundation is proud to support the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a national charity dedicated to supporting thousands of survivors of military suicide loss by offering them hope, healing, and renewed opportunities for personal growth.

TAPS can provide comfort and care to all those grieving a military loved one through a peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones.

If you are grieving the loss of a fallen service member, or know someone who can use support, the TAPS 24/7 National Military Survivor Helpline is available toll-free with at 800-959-TAPS (8277).

The importance of hope

Enhanced suicide prevention services will be needed to ensure that people in crisis are aware of what resources are available to them.

But research looking at past crises can also offer some hope as well. Suicide rates actually decreased after 9/11 due to the shared support a national crisis can often bring.

Despite the pandemic worries, we can still work together to prevent unnecessary deaths and plan for a better future.

* Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention
** Source: afsp.org/statistics

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Media contact
Lacey Siegel
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-7937

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