As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to make its way through different parts of the world, including right here in the United States, some people are finding themselves thinking suicidal thoughts. You may even hear some dark and extreme reports of people dying by suicide. A couple of those stories include a father of three in India who, mistakenly thinking he had the virus, snuck out in the middle of the night and hung himself. Also, a Chinese student living in Saudi Arabia threw himself out a window and died while under quarantine, because officials suspected he had the virus.
Counselors say that these extreme cases, in all likelihood, brought out something that was already there. These men gave into the despair that many are feeling as the outbreak continues.
With schools closed in some parts of the U.S., many young people may be feeling the same sense of loss and isolation as they remain closed off from friends and classmates. The feelings may grow with favorite restaurants, activity sites, and even churches closing their doors in efforts to stall the spread of the virus.
People losing their jobs, or having to work from home alone during this time of uncertainty may also be having suicidal thoughts. As well as those who fear they have the coronavirus, or are facing financial fallout from the cratering economy.
According to information from Focus on the Family’s Alive to Thrive program, these thoughts of suicide usually don’t come out of nowhere. Often, someone who thinks suicidal thoughts does so based on pre-existing conditions. There may be an underlying attachment disorder going as far back as infancy. Or depression related to childhood exposure to traumatic incidents such as abuse, neglect or parental mental illness.
This reality is something that Focus on the Family’s Senior Director of Counseling Services Geremy Keeton wants to help you understand. He says that times of greater stress will often expose our previously unseen tendencies and cracks in the foundation of our mental or spiritual health. The Coronavirus outbreak is causing serious stress for a lot of people. But Geremy offers hope:
“While our personal fleshly weaknesses can cause cracks in the foundation, the incredible thing is that as believers we stand on THE firm foundation of Jesus Christ,” Geremy says. “And we have something beyond ourselves to rely on.”
A Silver Lining
Suicidal thoughts sometimes turn disastrous, but there can be a silver lining when you tell someone you’re having those thoughts. Doing so may bring up discussions that should have been taking place all along, highlighting issues related to anxiety, stress and feeling overwhelmed.
Geremy says it’s natural for weaknesses to show up under pressure. But the most important thing is to talk about the underlying issues. “Talk it out, so you don’t have to act it out,” he says.
5 Ways to Get Help for Suicidal Thoughts
If you find that thoughts of suicide are plaguing your mind, it’s important for you to get help immediately. Geremy lists 5 ways to find help and address these thoughts.
- Connect with another person as soon as possible. Isolation and hiding are the greatest risks to address if you are having thoughts of suicide. And even though many people are under orders to stay home during the outbreak and to practice social distance to keep the spread of the virus down, Geremy says that social distancing does not mean heart distancing. “Thank God we live in a time where we can supplement with technology to help our hearts connect,” Geremy says.
- Call the 24 Hour Suicide Hotline. The number is 1-800-273-TALK. Someone is always there to answer the phone, and they even provide online chat.
- Call 911. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation and you want to harm yourself, or you know someone who wants to self harm, don’t hesitate to call 911.
- Visit Focus on the Family’s Alive to Thrive website. You’ll find plenty of resources at to help you move past this troubling time.
- Contact Focus on the Family counselors. If you’re interested in a free consultation with a Christian professional who can come alongside with a one-time call, and offer referrals and steps for your wellbeing, you can request a callback from a professional on staff at Focus on the Family. Just call 1-855-711-HELP or visit www.focusonthefamily.com/gethelp to arrange a window of time for callback.