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Reaching out to a friend right now could save their life

Posted at 8:41 AM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 13:05:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Stress, isolation, and financial hardship are just some of the things people are dealing with right now due to the coronavirus pandemic. Richmond therapist Karen Gill said this is not a time to take mental health lightly.

She said the coronavirus crisis has led to increased anxiety for many, and can be especially difficult for people with pre-existing mental health conditions.

Gill said a lack of energy or joy for living, staying in bed, or tending to think the worst of a situation, are all possible signs of depression.

"All of those things are things that you might want to be really careful if you start to notice in yourself," said Gill.

She also said if a loved one was not doing well, and you think they may be contemplating self harm or even suicide -- reach out to them and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.

"Like, 'people are really scared right now, and I can imagine some of those feelings are really overwhelming. And so I’m wondering, are you thinking about dying right now?' And that’s a really brave question to have to ask. And yet people who are able to hear that question know that that person that’s asking is a safe person because they’re not afraid to hear the answer," Gill said.

She said even one person showing concern could have a major impact.

"Just to know that we're not alone with our feelings, because sometimes our feelings are parts of ourselves that feel so, so alone. So when another person can hear that part of us that's struggling and wounded that makes those parts feel less alone," Gill said. "I think it’s important for people to realize that whatever they’re going through they deserve to be loved, they’re worthy of having their needs met -- that nothing they did could’ve prevented where we are right now."

Gill also recommended those who are struggling continue to reach out. She said hot lines would remain open and many therapists would hold online or over-the-phone sessions.

Many, she said, have availability since some people have canceled their in-person appointment.

She also added that many insurance companies have waived most restrictions on online therapy due to the pandemic. Gill said it’s important for people to know that this crisis will end.

"I think sometimes in dark times we say dark things to ourselves -- and we have to be really careful about those voices we might start to believe," she said.

There is also a national suicide prevention hot line that’s always available at 1-800-273-TALK. You can also text the word TALK to a crisis text line number: 741741.