Suicide prevention groups report uptick in calls amid COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Suicide prevention groups are seeing an uptick in calls during the COVID-19 pandemic and want to remind you that help is available while we deal with tough times.

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Last week, a 44-year-old woman took her life by jumping off of an Advocate Christ Medical Center parking garage. During this COVID-19 crisis, suicide prevention organizations are seeing an increase in calls.

"I think our whole entire industry is seeing an uptick," said Jonny Boucher, CEO of Hope for the Day. "Right now, people are reaching out whether it's through the lifelines, our website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter."

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Organizations like Hope for The Day are offering many online workshops to help. The Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is calling on family and friends to reach out to loved ones who are struggling.

"For those people who do deal with mental illnesses, this can add a lot of stress to the managing of their condition," said Tandra Rutledge, with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-Illinois Chapter. "We want them to know we are here for them, folks are not alone."

Experts say it's vital for people with mental illnesses to stay on medication and pursue online therapy.

For others, depression and anxiety may be hard to avoid during this pandemic, especially being isolated. Dr. Judy Moskowitz, a psychologist with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said setting a schedule and making a list each day is key.

"Two or three things that you can do," said Dr. Moskowitz. "And when you accomplish them and cross them off, it a hit of positive emotion that can help you stay engaged and avoid getting too down."

Besides setting a schedule, experts advise people to limit their COVID-19 news intake.

"Turn it off," said Dr. Moskowitz. "If you check on it once a day that is probably plenty, and if something really big happens, you're going to hear about it."

Reading books, preferably fiction, playing board games and reaching out to friends online are all ways to avoid slipping into depression. If you are suicidal, call 1-800-273-TALK.

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