FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – It’s an issue many face but few talk about… suicide and mental health struggles.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and now, more than ever, it is important to bring awareness to these issues. Talking about suicide can be an uncomfortable conversation but as we continue to navigate this health crisis that keeps us apart, experts and those affected by it say it’s a discussion we need to openly have.
“That’s what we always try to encourage… that it’s okay to talk about it. I think maybe there’s a stigma that to talk about suicide might plant an idea in someone’s head but it’s actually the opposite,” said Zach Hedges, C.O.O., Youth Bridge Inc./Burrell Behavioral Health.
It’s this stigma Hedges hopes to break.
He says as we continue guidelines to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, like remaining physically distant from others, symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts can come as a result.
“We understand that positive mental health always comes with relationship and connection and when people are not allowed or maybe those relationships have been affected by coronavirus then it’s likely that certain symptoms may start to emerge,” Hedges said.
For Kaylin Mcwhorter, the topic of suicide hits close to home. In 2016 she lost a sorority sister to this mental health struggle.
“Throughout the transition of the big change and the transition of college and everything she kind of got into a darker place and lost her battle with mental health,” Mcwhorter said.
Since then, she and her sorority have started a new philanthropy on campus for students struggling with mental health.
“I want you to know that you’re never alone and that you are loved and you are worthy of Every single piece of this life,” Mcwhorter said.
While Hedges is concerned this year may have a negative effect on mental health, he also believes awareness is heightened now more than ever.
“Mental illness has been around for a while I think there’s more access to awareness to a lot of the things that are happening especially since Covid,” he said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts, please call 800-273-8255. The service is available 24/7 and is free of cost.
Mental health services are also available specifically for University of Arkansas students. That number is 479-575-5276. You can find more information and resources on their website.