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Suicide rate rises in Pima County, likely related to stress from COVID-19 pandemic

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TUCSON - May is Mental Health Awareness Month. 

Recent numbers from the Pima County Health Department show a rise in suicides.

That rise is likely related to the stress and anxiety the coronavirus pandemic is putting on our lives.

In a letter to doctors and therapists, Mark Person, Pima County's Mental Health and Addiction Program manager, noted the increase.

There were a total of 22 deaths by suicide in the first 28 days of March.

Nine suicides occurred between March 15 and March 21. 

"People are feeling anxious," Julie Mack, a suicide prevention specialist with Arizona Complete Health said. "They are feeling isolated, they are feeling overwhelmed, some individuals are feeling lonely, feeling hopeless."

Mack believes some people are struggling with the many unknowns the COVID-19 crisis has placed on our lives. 

"What is life going to be like in one month, two months?," Mack said. "I think that is what a lot of people are struggling with."

Person told News 4 Tucson there are trained therapists and crisis lines available to help those in need and we can reach out to loved but people and resources are harder to find right now.

"With people in isolation, we've drastically changed our environment here so the resources are less visible than they may have been before," Person said. "And people that felt isolated going into this, that's exaggerated."

"The biggest part is to listen," Mack said. "Let the person know you care about them, let the person know you want them to be safe, it gives them the opportunity to share their feelings and their thoughts."

If you, or someone you know, need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at: 1-800-273-TALK.

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Eric Fink

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