suicide prevention

Suicides Surge in 2020, Chicago-Area Health Officials Say

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If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741.

Chicago-area health officials are asking everyone to keep an eye on loved ones as suicide rates rise in 2020.

The DuPage County coroner says there were 54 suicides from January 1 to June 30, 2020, compared to 44 suicides during the same time frame in 2019. That’s a 22.7% increase.

“Certainly the anxiety and the issues surrounding COVID-19 have not helped,” said Karen Ayala, Executive Director of the DuPage County Health Department.

Ayala wants families to know there are resources out there, including a wide range of services at the Behavioral Health Services division of the DuPage County Health Department, which has treatment programs at public health centers in Wheaton, Addison, Westmont and Lombard.

“Don't wait for the, for the perfect words to come to you. Don't worry about saying exactly the right thing to those individuals. It's much more important simply to say that you're concerned about them and you know where to go for help,” Ayala said.

Also startling, nearly 80% of the suicides in DuPage County for the first half of 2020 were men.

It’s something Dr. Mark Loafman, Chair of Family and Community Medicine for Cook County Health is seeing as well, particularly among African Americans.

“It's really honest to look at this as a public health crisis, particularly for men of color, who just face these overwhelming odds of despair,” Loafman said.

In Cook County, there have been 71 suicides in the Black community so far in 2020, compared to 56 in all of 2019. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office says 2020 is on pace to be the worst year for suicides in the Black community in a decade.

“I think there's more isolation, there's more frustration, there's more of a sense of despair and I think it’s even more important that we reach out to those (people). Our system is trying hard to reach out, both electronically and virtually, and also in real ways to know that we're here,” Loafman said.

Health experts are asking families to pay attention to their loved ones’ behavior and to reach out to mental health experts if they’re concerned.

Here’s a list of national and statewide resources:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
  • The Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances. If someone you know is suffering from an opioid use disorder or other substance use disorders, call the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at 1-833
  • 2FINDHELP to speak with a trained professional for support and advice or to be directed to customized resources or visit HelplineIL.org.
  • Call4Calm. This free textline is available if you or someone you know needs emotional support. Text TALK to 552020 for English or HABLAR for Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers seeking assistance remain anonymous and will provide only their first name and zip code, which enables the service to link you to a counselor in your area who is knowledgeable about available local resources.
  • Veteran's Crisis Line. To reach caring, qualified responders within the Department of Veterans Affairs, connect with the Veterans Crisis Line. This free support is confidential, available 24/7, and serves all veterans, service members, their families and friends. Call 1-800-273-8255 or text: 838255. Support is available for the hearing impaired, call 1-800-799-4889.
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