Amid increased suicide risk factors, a Sept. 24 talk on prevention


Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2020 5:23:36 PM
Modified: 9/15/2020 5:23:31 PM

Suicide risk factors may be higher than usual during the pandemic, particularly for young adults. In fact, recent data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention found that one in four people between the ages of 18 and 24 have contemplated suicide in the past month because of the pandemic.

So, coinciding with National Suicide Prevention Month, the MassSupport Network will focus on prevention of youth suicide during a town hall-style event on Sept. 24.

Registration for the Zoom presentation, which begins at 7 p.m., can be found on the MassSupport Facebook page. The presentation will feature practical skills for dealing with suicide risk, and speakers with personal experiences involving suicide.

In major disasters, rates of suicide usually decrease, said Sarah Gaer, a crisis counseling team leader of the MassSupport Network, which provides free counseling services across the state. If there is an increase in rates of suicide, it is usually several months to a year later, she said.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic is unique because of how it has exacerbated social issues that are often considered risk factors for suicide, she said.

“The nature of this disaster has caused lots of isolation, it’s caused unemployment, it’s caused financial distress. And those things are known risk factors for suicide,” Gaer said.

The pandemic also makes people more hesitant to visit doctors, hospitals or crisis centers, creating more cause for concern, she said. She also noted that those kinds of facilities make great efforts to make themselves as safe as possible so that they can still provide care.

If you know someone who you think may be at risk of suicide, Gaer recommends seeking training on suicide prevention. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers training. She also recommends the QPR Institute (which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer), which offers online training to teach basic skills for supporting someone who may be at risk.

For someone in an immediate crisis, Gaer recommends calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached at 800-273-8255.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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