FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The COVID pandemic has taken a serious toll on Northeast Indiana’s mental health. Some of the younger population may be struggling even more greatly, with some considering suicide.
“When you think about what’s going on in our community here in Allen County and surrounding communities, unfortunately the suicide rates among our young people is increasing,” said Alice Jordan-Miles, Director of Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Behavioral Health and Family Studies Institute.
She explains that the “sense of desperation” among young people has grown with the pandemic.
“The number of calls into the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and visits to various mental health websites throughout the country has increased exponentially,” she said, further explaining that it’s isolation that is heightening matters. “They’re not supported by their typical friends or their outings, going to the mall or going to see a movie. Those type of activities have been absent in young people’s lives.”
Connie Kerrigan, Director of Community Outreach at Parkview Behavioral Health, is observing similar patterns.
“People are feeling completely overwhelmed,” she said. “Maybe they’ve lost a job. They’re isolated. Some people don’t like to be isolated at home. They really want to be out working with other people. They may not have that choice. So even if they haven’t’ had any other mental health problems in the past, they may be having them now.”
These experts say social connection and support is the key to overcoming such darkness.
Parkview Health is promoting their Suicide Obviation and Support (SOS) navigators, who are embedded in hospital emergency departments and connected to resources within the Parkview Behavioral Health Institute, as well as domestic violence organizations and emergency shelters. The SOS navigators provide “at-elbow” support for suicidal crisis and domestic violence victims, coordinating care and referrals to treatment programs, support services and community resources.
Park Center, Bowen Center, Headwaters Counseling, STOPSuicide Northeast Indiana, RemedyLIVE are among the many other local places to seek help at.
“You matter and the world is not a better place without you,” said Jordan-Miles. “Everyone needs to understand that everyone is important. And I realize that young people sometimes don’t feel that way and are not supported in whatever means they pursue but please understand that health is available. It’s just a matter of understanding it’s okay not be okay and it’s also okay just to be okay.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and to reach the National Crisis Text Line you can text HOME to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor.