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Suicide rates spike through COVID-19 pandemic

79% people with mental and physical illnesses
Posted at 7:00 AM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 10:52:44-04

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. — Over the last couple months, the Pima County Health Department has reported a spike in the suicide rates.

The Health Department sent out an alert to community health care workers about this new data.

It's reporting 23 people took their life in the last couple of months, with 79% having a confirmed mental illness of medical conditions (vulnerable populations) such as: individuals living in poverty, families living in poverty with school-age children, minority groups, people with chronic health conditions, and people who recently experienced unemployment, divorce, domestic violence or child removal.

Of those reported, three of the deaths were minors and the rest were adults aged 20 to 70.

"If we see a spike, in a month or in a week or in a day, we’re going to investigate it," Program Manager with the Pima County Health Department Mark Person said. "If we think it’s something that is alert worthy, we will send it out in hopes that providers will be able to do something in the moment to stop it."

The concern was the spike in the number of suicides throughout the month of March 2020. The sharpest increase at that time was 15 suicides within a 14-day span.

In times of crisis, Person said it is normal for a person's mental state to change. This can be due to financial stressors, isolation, lack of natural support systems, and reduced access to resources has placed vulnerable populations at an elevated risk.

However, even in isolation, no one is alone.

Full list of Resources:
· Call 9-1-1
· If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 520-622-6000 or 1-866-495-6735 (TDD/TTY: 1-877-613-2076) to reach the Community-Wide Crisis line
· Walk-in crisis services are available at Banner – University Medicine Crisis Response Center (at Banner – UMC South), 2802 E. District St.
· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
· Crisis Text Line [ Text HOME to 741741 · Banner – University Medicine Behavioral Health:, 520-874-7520
· NAMI’s online communities and also contact your local NAMI affiliate for resources in
· 7cups.comoffers free online chat for emotional support and counseling, with services in Spanish available
· Emotions Anonymous offering weekly online meetings
· Support Groups Centralhas virtual groups for free or low cost
· The Tribe Wellness Communityoffers free, online peer support groups. Includes focused groups for addiction, anxiety, depression, HIV/AIDS, LGBT, marriage/family, OCD and teens.