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Homicides are a serious problem in our country. What you might not know is suicides are a far greater problem.

More than twice as many people die by suicide each year than by homicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and it has increased by 35 percent since 1999.

It's a big enough problem without a worldwide pandemic. But with COVID-19, health officials fear it's a much bigger concern.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, and Thursday is World Suicide Prevention Day.

It's a good time to stay alert to the increased potential of suicide and to watch for the warning signs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a June study that suicidal ideation related to the pandemic has significantly increased. About 40 percent of adults reportedly are struggling with issues such as health, substance abuse or suicide ideation.

The study also found the percent of respondents who seriously considered suicide in a 30-day period during the pandemic was 10.7 percent, more than double the 4.3 percent in a 2018 study.

The numbers spiked for Blacks (15.1 percent), Hispanics (18.6 percent), essential workers (21.7 percent), young adults ages 18-24 (25.5 percent) and unpaid caregivers (30.7 percent).

Suicide warning signs include someone talking about killing themselves, feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, being a burden to others, feeling trapped or having unbearable pain.

Warning behaviors include increased use of alcohol or drugs, looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods; withdrawing from activities; isolating from family and friends; sleeping too much or too little; visiting or calling people to say goodbye; giving away prized possessions; aggression and fatigue.

When you look out for the well-being of your friends and loved ones, especially during the pandemic, make sure to also look out for signs of suicide.

And if you are in a crisis, call 800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.

News Tribune

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