COVID-19 and Suicide – Why Our Messaging Matters

July 15, 2022

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The HPHR Journal

A recent opinion piece calls for more accurate and action-oriented messaging about the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors share guidance from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Messaging Work Group, which has developed key messages about mental health and suicide prevention in the context of COVID-19. These messages include the following: (1) acting now can help prevent pandemic-related mental health issues; (2) the mental health challenges posed by COVID-19 highlight the need for a national, coordinated effort to promote mental health and prevent suicide; (3) social connectedness is vital and everyone can play a role in being there for others; (4) while early data show an overall drop in suicide rates, some groups have experienced disproportionate adversity and increased suicide rates; (5) help is available for those who are struggling; and (6) when discussing suicide data, include the relevant timeframe and context (e.g., increased outreach to crisis services may not mean more people are suicidal, but could suggest increased awareness of these services). To help ensure the public is accurately informed and empowered to help themselves and others, the work group encourages anyone publicly messaging about mental health and suicide to adopt these key messages, including members of the news media.

Spark Extra! Also check out the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide.