SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Communities around the world are coming together for World Suicide Prevention Day. A local organization in Chatham County says suicide rates in the state of Georgia have risen significantly in the past year.
WSAV spoke with the Program Director at the Chatham County SafetyNet Planning Council about how the pandemic is impacting people’s mental health.
Vira Salzburn said suicide is the second leading cause of death in 2020 for people ages 10 to 34 compared to 2019 when it was ages 15 to 24. She said poverty, trauma, and other stressors linked to the pandemic are making people feel hopeless.
The Chatham County SafetyNet Planning Council received more calls in the past three months from people seeking help than they did all of last year. With rising divorce rates, Salzburn said relationship problems is the number one contributor to suicidal thoughts.
The nonprofit works with community partners to provide people with resources and to teach physical and mental health and wellness.
“If you are struggling, if you are suffering, it’s not your fault; but it is your responsibility to do something about it. There are many contributes to why you are where you are right now, however there are many opportunities to not be there,” Salzburn said.
The Chatham County Mental Health Symposium is hosting online events every week throughout the month of September, as a part of the month’s focus on raising awareness and prevention for suicide.
Anyone with suicidal thoughts can get evaluated at the Behavioral Health Crisis Center that is now open. Families can also take loved ones to the center to receive care and medication.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-7150-4225.
Salzburn said it’s critical, especially right now, for people to find ways to create meaningful connections and to have difficult conversations. She said being proactive about your mental health like eating healthy and exercising can provide the resilience to push through difficult situations.