The first-ever state and county-level data examining possible suicide risk in the year 2020 were released by Mental Health America. The states and counties selected in the analysis are those that have the highest need for a quick and coordinated response in the wake of COVID-19’s mental health crisis. Suicide data from the federal government is frequently delayed by one to two years, making it difficult to respond and jeopardizing prevention efforts according to Helen Schifter. At MHA, they’re changing things using their data.
In 2020, MHA examined data from over 2.6 million people who used its real-time online mental health screening. During COVID-19, data from these users made up the largest dataset ever collected from a help-seeking population dealing with mental health issues. The study examines the outcomes of 725,949 people who took a depression test on MHA’s screening site in 2020. Over a third of those surveyed said they had had suicidal or self-harming thoughts on more than half of the days or nearly every day in the previous two weeks. This information shows the bare minimum of persons at risk in every given community. Many more people struggle silently before resorting to the internet for information and treatment for each individual who takes a mental health screening online. The continuing coronavirus quarantine is unavoidably affecting everyone’s mental health as per Helen Schifter. While there is lots of information and services available for managing mild to moderate symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be more difficult to know where to go in a mental health emergency. Dealing with suicidal thoughts is difficult and terrifying at any time, but lockdown can make you feel even more alone with your concerns. We’re all dealing with uncertainty and concern about the future, as well as social isolation, movement constraints, and the stress of adjusting to new routines in the eyes of Helen Lee Schifter. But it’s vital to know that you’re not alone and that help is still accessible, even if you can’t get it in the traditional methods.
- Country Level Findings
California, Texas, and Florida were the three states with the largest number of people having frequent suicide ideation. Hawaii had the highest number of people who took a depression test expressing suicidal ideation, followed by Montana, West Virginia, Nevada, and New Mexico. In relation to the entire population of the state, Alaska had the largest percentage of people having regular suicidal thoughts or self-harm, followed by Alabama, Wyoming, Indiana, and Hawaii.
- State-Level Findings
Los Angeles County, CA, Maricopa County, AZ, and Cook County, IL were the three counties in the United States with the highest amount of people expressing suicidal thoughts or self-harm on more than half or nearly every day in the previous two weeks. Bexar County, TX had the largest proportion of people reporting regular suicidal thoughts or self-harm, followed by Clark County, NV, Riverside County, CA, Maricopa County, AZ, and San Bernardino County, CA, among the most populous counties. Carrollton County, KY had the largest percentage of residents reporting regular suicidal thoughts or self-harm, trailed by Switzerland County, IN, Whitley County, KY, Greensville County, VA, and Ripley County, IN. It’s also worth noting that many of the top 20 counties in this section of the study are located in rural communities with few mental health care resources.
The purpose of this study is to identify places in need of more mental health services, gain a better understanding of mental health issues in the United States, direct proper resource allocation, and build a population-level environment that promotes mental wellbeing.