By Jessica Easthope
New York City has suffered a tremendous loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but not all have fallen victim to the virus.
“People who have lost their jobs, who have lost loved ones feel a profound sense of hopelessness,” said Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich of Queens.
Councilman Ulrich says the number of suicides in his borough since mid-March is shocking. In 2019, from January 1 until April 29, Queens saw 17 suicides. There have been 16 in the last six weeks since schools closed and people have been forced to stay home.
“I don’t think people have paid enough attention to the mental health impacts the COVID crisis has had,” Councilman Ulrich added. He believes those numbers could be even higher because so many suicides go unreported.
Queens has been hit especially hard by the virus with more than 48,000 confirmed cases. Nearly 3,600 Queens residents have died from COVID-19.
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Director of Field Operations, Holly Jaskiewicz Schatz, says the trauma of a global health crisis combined with a spike in unemployment and the loneliness of social isolation can be dangerous.
“It can have an extremely significant impact, with this we don’t really have an end in sight so then it makes the mind wander, what if, what will go on and it can just spiral out of control,” Holly said.
Catholic Charities is urging people to reach out for help at one of its five outpatient clinics or through it’s call center, which can be reached at 718-722-6001 and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Counselors are also giving tips on how to stay mentally well from home during social distancing.
“It’s important for folks to continue with structure in their day,” Holly explained. “I’s easy when you’re not home, not doing anything to not shower or get dressed or eat healthily, so it’s important to continue to have structure.”
Experts say a great way to do your part to combat the mental health aspect of the COVID crisis is to call your friends and family and leave notes for neighbors, because making that human connection might save a life.
If you or someone you know might need help, call (718) 722-6001 or go to https://www.ccbq.org/.