Mental health, News

Ugly Truth 52: Suicide Rates Are Rising Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic

“We need to change the culture of this topic and make it okay to talk about mental health and suicide.” -Luke Richardson

Dear Readers,

It is no secret we are living in unprecedented times.

Our nation’s capital would rather use their election platform to throw temper tantrums and popularity contests than serve those in need. A gruesome pandemic has swept across the globe, robbing us of our wellness, and leaving lasting dents in our populations. Our health care system (which was already atrocious) is now inundated as a result. Unemployment rates sky rocketed while our economy plummeted. Travel industries and non-essential workers were suddenly faced with unique challenges. Schools closed early – if not completely. Grocery stores struggled to supply our panicked demands, and it wasn’t long before meaningful assets were lost and family owned businesses were forced to shut down for good.

Furthermore, consider the cultural crisis of the Blake Lives Matter Movement, the ever pressing women’s rights and LGBTQ+ issues, a lack of access to spiritual services, and the civil war that seeks to divide us all within our already government issued isolation – and it begs the question: What will our mental health response consist of when faced with what it means to be alive in this specific time and place in history? Drawn in this light, we can easily see how dynamic our challenges are from a socio-economic psycho-social perspective.

In some weird way it is no longer special interest groups being targeted, but humanity as a whole. Indeed, it has become frighteningly easy to lose our bearings given the state of things. I do not envy our city leaders who are now tasked with equipping their populations to adapt or die. Is it any wonder why so few of us are sleeping at night? Perhaps the year of 2020 has the potential to be our great equalizer. Perhaps we can choose to come together to find solutions, or be driven further apart by the media and those in positions of power.

The truth is it’s too early to tell. Numbers for suicide rates typically run two years behind, but many clinicians suspect an increase as a direct result of the generational opposition we are currently facing. Interestingly enough, I haven’t done suicide prevention advocacy field work myself since 2018. As both a suicide attempt and suicide loss survivor, this work seems more important than ever. In an interesting article by Townhall, the CDC Control Director, Robert Redfield, attempts to compare the rate of suicide to Covid-19 deaths. In short, he suspects a rise in suicide rates, as well as deaths resulting from substance abuse in the coming reports. Likewise, he cites a disproportionate decline in the mental health of our youth specifically.

Even though things are very loud right now, we must not let the silent epidemic slip under our radar. The truth is our children are in trouble having made more attempts on their life than in years prior. Even more scary, we are seeing more successful completions of suicide by young people than ever before. At first it seems incomprehensible, but then we remember we’re living in an age of information with more platforms than ever before. While many count these as valuable resources to be utilized for good, they also make us more vulnerable to invasion. Let this be a gentle reminder to check in with your kids, especially if they appear to be unaffected.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is a major public health concern. More than 48,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States; it is the 10th leading cause of death overall. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. See below to learn the signs, action steps, and locate shareable images to spread awareness on your own social media.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle, Mental health

Ugly Truth 010: Unplug to Truly Connect

“Being connected to everything has disconnected us from ourselves and the preciousness of this present moment.”
L.M. Browning, Vagabonds and Sundries
Good Morning Readers, By now you may know that I have taken it upon myself to take a break from social media for 100 days. You can read more about the whys in Ugly Truth 003: Distraction Posts Work. My hope has been to return to myself, my family, and look down less all while resetting my dopamine signals. Initially, I gave up Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube but chose to maintain WordPress and LinkedIn. I made some small adjustments after the first week such as keeping Facebook Messenger active, and watching YouTube so long as it was television and not YouTubers or comment engagements. The goal is to minimize notifications and time consumption. The reason social media is so damn catchy is due to the instant gratification it provides us measly impatient humans. When you hear that notification sound you are indeed engaging in a behavioral pattern reinforced by feel good chemical changes in the brain, and so you keep coming back for more. While this is fun and mostly harmless, it has caused all kinds of new reflections in our own psychology specifically, and society in general. You might ask, “Jaymie, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is we’re seeing changes that include cultural comparisons resulting in an increase in depression. The trouble is a problem of information access that makes us feel vulnerable and less safe. What’s more, these comparisons are only perceptions – not reality. When you hop online and see how successful John Doe is or that Suzie Q. married Mr. Right, you compare and contrast their life to your own. Unconsciously or otherwise, you begin to see holes in your life where there are none. What you see on social media is a heavily filtered version of the truth. As such, you may think Jane has it all while she backpacks across Europe while never knowing that she may struggle with an eating disorder or inconsolable crying spells behind closed doors. This is because social media is just that – social. We as a species adhere to certain rules of conduct when engaging with one another. The truth is we do this in person too! Social media platforms provide an additional barrier, making it even easier to only see partial truths. So do yourself a favor and stop comparing your insides to other people’s outsides. Over the past two weeks without social media I have noted a couple of things. I have noticed that I am happier! This was most significant the first 2-3 days while my brain recalibrated to the freedom and dopamine signals. Then, like any good high it leveled out and tapered off. Once the euphoria passed, I experienced my first con; I was lonely. Social media provides us with good company, conversation, and entertainment. When it comes to mental health, social media affords us support groups, education, and the knowledge that we are so far from alone in our suffering. I found myself missing the support of friends and loved ones far away. I started missing the nostalgic pictures, countless cat videos, and clever quips – and I still do. I found myself faced with a significant blockade when it came to social networking, a necessity for any working mother. On the flip side, I also found more quality time with my family and developed a new hobby – knitting! Lastly, I noticed my phone holds battery a whole lot longer. The truth is, everything in moderation. Have you ever done a social media detox? What did you learn? **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!
Blogging, Mental health

Ugly Truth 003: Distraction Posts Work

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” [The Guardian, 25 February 2010]
Hilary Mantel
Dear Readers, The fact is, human beings are not great multitaskers. When we attempt to achieve more by doing more, our ability and efficacy actually suffer. We do indeed thrive best during single task activities in terms of both long and short term goals. It is no secret that distraction is one of the most common coping skills among those with mental health diagnoses, or even common every day stressors. While in the whirlwinds of anxiety or the uncertainty of a mood swing, it becomes so very easy to become lost in a movie, our favorite song, or a soothing task. The trouble is, in an age of information and technology, we are more susceptible to overstimulation, misinformation, and the fluctuations of brain chemistry. I want you to imagine, if you will, just how much information you take in each and every day from billboards, radio, television, news apps, and social media. Try to imagine what that number might be, and then compare it to that number ten years ago. Advertisement was always on the rise, sure, but when compared with today’s breadth and depth of information processing – I find it all a bit staggering. Surely this has to take a toll on our brain health and personal psychology. The truth is, the world wide web connects us to others around the globe minimizing the isolation mental illness can create. Likewise, distraction is a viable coping skill allowing a time frame for symptoms to pass or stress to cease. However, the tools bestowed upon us might also be contributing to the problem. You know that old saying about having too much of a good thing? Well, I do believe we’ve found it. Naturally curious, I embraced this pattern of thought and used my fingertips to research the topic of a social media detox. I was sold on the concept in less than five minutes. Neuroplasticity suggests that our brains are somewhat malleable. It teaches us that we are quite capable of breaking old habits, developing new ones, and recovering from damage. This is great news in the face of an endless supply of blue lit screens and voice-activated convenience. What fascinates me further is that we as a society have given room where previously there was none. We have accepted new social norms that were once blatantly disrespectful. We gently ignore the unprofessional cashier or lack of eye-contact from our peers because it affords us our own indulgences. Not only that, but social media makes our personal lives vulnerable to speculation by friends, family, employers and strangers. At the very least it begs the question, how much is too much? Experts suggest no more than two hours daily of screen time, but we all know we have received leagues more than that ever since the unveiling of Microsoft. Here we are – the same kids from the AOL boom – with handheld computers we couldn’t even imagine, fully equipped with the social media that allows us to compare, delude, debate and depress ourselves. As you can see, this really got me thinking about the person I was, and the person I’ve become as a child of a generation at the center of an age of access. Not only that, but how that influences my mental health. So, I have challenged myself to eliminate social media from my screen diet for 100 days in attempt to reset my dopamine production, and glean some wisdom along the way. My hope is that I will find more time to return to the things I love, and perhaps even find no desire to return to social media at all. I say, this is too much of a good thing. I say, hang up the internet and walk outside! Allow your mind to recalibrate and quiet. What is this incessant need for stimulation? What would you be doing right now if you weren’t staring at your phone? How many fewer books do you read each year? How many fewer hobbies do you pursue? How much time is lost or wasted? How many evenings are spent turned away from family members, lovers, and dinner tables? **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!