April 16, 2020

Pima County records a rise in deaths by suicide in March

The sharpest increase came in the second half of the month.

According to the Pima County Health Department, there were 22 deaths by suicide between March 1 and March 28, compared to 12 in February.

The sharpest increase came in the second half of March, when suicides averaged a little more than one per day, double the amount from the previous two weeks.

In a letter to community providers, the county wrote: "Although we cannot accurately estimate how much of this increase is being influenced by the current environment, we have been able to verify through record review that several of these deaths were influenced by isolation and the constant stream of negative media which exaggerates the sense of risk and fear associated with the COVID-19 pandemic."

Amy Bass, executive director of the Community Prevention Coalition at PPEP, said people are under intense stress right now.

"Everything has been amplified. So if you have a history of trauma, if you are already under some sort of duress and struggling, COVID has made it worse," she said.

Bass said there are many resources available to people experiencing difficulty or desperation, including the state 2-1-1 hotline, which connects people with help.

She said it's a good time to check in on family, friends or neighbors who are at risk.

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