Washington D.C., Apr 29, 2021 / 07:00 am
With concerns that suicide rates are rising in communities of color during the pandemic, Catholic mental health workers say the Church can play a key role in response.
Claire Shynett, coordinator of the Houston chapter of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, told CNA in an interview that churches are critical to reaching people struggling with mental illness who have not yet sought treatment.
Shynett noted that “in most communities of color, the church is the center focus.”
“So if we start working with people through the church, we can help educate more people on what’s happening” with their mental health, Shynett said.
During 2020, some expressed concern that the overall suicide rate would increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to anxiety about the virus and the lifestyle changes caused by public health restrictions. A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that one in four young adults had contemplated suicide in the previous month, from data collected in late June 2020.
Recent data from the CDC shows that the overall suicide rate actually declined during 2020. According to data from the National Vital Statistics System, suicide deaths declined by 5.6% in the United States from 2019 to 2020.
However, some experts warn that suicides might have increased among people of color, according to data from preliminary studies.
According to the New York Times, preliminary studies of local data in states such as Illinois, Maryland, and Connecticut shows a rise in suicides “among Black Americans and other people of color when compared with previous years.”