KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Everyday life is constantly changing and for some, it may bring up overwhelming worry, sadness and stress.

Last week, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs shared there was a rise in suspected suicides. Within 48 hours, the Knox County Regional Forensic Center was examining nine suspected suicides. Mayor Jacobs says that equates to roughly 10-percent of last year’s total within the county.

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During the coronavirus pandemic, counselors with Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network say they’re noticing a rise in suspected suicides.

“We’re not saying it is specifically the only factor but we know that kind of encompasses a lot. So, that might mean some people are being laid off from work, some are having to stay home more with their family and children. But something we say at TSPN is that someone doesn’t die by suicide for one reason alone,” said Sarah Walsh, East Tennessee Regional Director at TSPN.

Walsh says while we stay home and practice social distancing, it can be problematic to our mental health because suicide prevention is all about connection and support.

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“We’re in an age where technology is so readily at our fingertips. Call family, video chat, maybe connect with social media. I’ve seen a lot of people online playing games together. So, there are a lot of ways for us to stay connected,” added Walsh.

While you’re connecting with friends or loved ones you may be worrying about, TSPN suggests paying attention to what’s being said.

“So, some in-direct cues are ‘I’m tired of life. I just can’t go on. My family would be better off without me. Who cares if I’m dead anyways. I just want out. I won’t be around much longer and pretty soon you won’t have to worry about me,'” described Walsh.

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She says it’s important to be mindful if someone may have tried committing suicide in the past, “But you might have to ask the question if they’re thinking about suicide directly. Just opening that door for communication and that might be really uncomfortable but the more direct you are, the more likely they’re going to be answer. We do a training called QPR, question, persuade and refer. Q, is asking directly, P is persuade them to stay alive and get help, but R is refer and letting the professionals step in.”

Walsh suggests seeing if a therapist will do telecounseling and if information regarding COVID-19 becomes overwhelming, it’s okay to set boundaries and limit what you’re reading.

“We might be feeling alone because we are isolated right now or separated from one another, but please know you’re not alone. You have people who love you and care about you and they’re willing to help,” said Walsh.

Reach out for help 24/7:

For 24-hour crisis response services:

  • Cherokee Health Systems (adults) 800-826-6881 or 855-602-1082
  • Helen Ross McNabb Center (all ages) 865-539-2409
  • Ridgeview (adults) 865-481-6175 or 800-870-5481
  • Youth Villages (ages 5-17) 866-791-9224

Other Urgent Resources:

  • Helen Ross McNabb Center 865-541-6959

For more information visit Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network’s website by clicking here.