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Mental health experts express concerns about psychological impact of COVID-19

DAVIE, Fla. – Over the past several weeks, calls to the Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention have steadily increased.

“The one thing that we human beings have difficulty with is uncertainty, and these are extremely uncertain times,” said Jackie Rosen, president of FISP.

Rosen founded the organization after the death of her son Mitchell from suicide 33 years ago.

“In his honor, I knew I had to help other people who suffer from the loss of a loved one from suicide and, of course, that expanded over the years,” she said.

Many mental health experts are concerned about the potential for an increase in suicides, as well as crippling anxiety and depression, brought on by the stress of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have this silent but potentially deadly killer that could occur anywhere so people, as a result of that, feel on edge pretty much all the time,” said Dr. Gil Abramovici, a psychiatrist with Memorial Healthcare.

Abramovici said there’s also a concern about substance abuse, which can increase the risk of suicide.

“We know that people during times of stress may turn to illicit substances as a way of numbing or escaping reality, especially those with underlying mental health issues. With these stay at home measures, people have not been able to socially engage, so that isolation and withdrawal can lead people to abuse substances in an effort to erase their worry and fear,” she said.

Although it could be as long as 2 years before there is any data linking suicide rates to the pandemic, Rosen said people need to remember help is here now.

“We must make people realize that mental health is jut physical health of the brain and project to the community that it’s OK to ask for help… that help is out there,” she said.

Resources available 24/7: The Florida Initiative For Suicide Prevention by dialing 954-364-0344 or the National Suicide Hotline by dialing 800-273-8255.


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