Knox County Health Department Director, Dr. Martha Buchanan, choked back tears as she pleaded with the public, Friday. “If there’s anyone out there who is struggling, I encourage you to reach out. Reach out to your pastor, your friend.”
Dr. Buchanan’s plea came after the Knox County Mayor reported eight suspected suicide cases, within the past 48 hours, are under investigation. There were 83 suicides reported in Knox County in 2019. Mayor Glenn Jacobs says he’s greatly concerned about recent rash of suicides in Knox County. “That number is completely shocking and makes me wonder if what we are doing now is really the best approach,” the Mayor said. “We have to determine how we can respond to COVID-19 in a way that keeps our economy intact, keeps people employed and empowers them with a feeling of hope and optimism – not desperation and despair.”
Representative Rick Staples (15th District), a longtime proponent of suicide awareness and prevention issued a statement regarding the mental toll of COVID-19.
“Suicide is the end result of many factors, life stressors and underlying mental health conditions. Now more than ever with the uncertainty of Covid-19 and the fluidness of daily life as a result of the virus, we must become more conscious of how we can prevent these tragedies through greater awareness of mental health, triggers and warning signs and be able to offer effective interventions and treatments.”
Dr. Buchanan offered a bit of understanding and optimism to anyone suffering from mental issues. “It’s challenging to have your world turned upside down, by losing your job, having to stay home, by not being sure if you’re going to get sick. We will get through this crisis together if we allow ourselves to reach out when we need hope, if we check on each other regularly, and if we allow ourselves to be human, and kind, and caring.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.