One man attempted #suicide after partner’s death, while calls for help have increased
A grieving man struggling to cope after his partner died found the #socialisolation brought on by the #coronavirus #pandemic left him feeling suicidal.
David Marsland, 49, is originally from Darlington but moved to Liverpool nine years ago after meeting Barbara online.
When Barbara died in June last year, the grief and increasing sense of #isolation he was feeling drove him to try and take his own life.
David said: “It wasn’t just down to #Covid. In June last year my partner, Barbara, passed away.
“I attempted #suicide about nine weeks ago. I’ve never felt anything that bad before in my life.”
David said his struggle to cope with the grief coupled with #isolation caused by social restrictions imposed in response to the #pandemic led him to a “dark place”.
He said: “I’ve never really had a big social network of friends so my partner when she was alive was my kind of everything.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
“I took time out initially for bereavement but when lockdown came in place I think I started to get a bit more insular as every day went on.
“I was speaking with people less and that’s when work got in touch with me to ask if I was okay because of what I was going through personally.
“You can quite easily get carried away being in your own bubble.
“What you don’t realise when you shut yourself away is how much your personality changes.”
Six weeks ago, David was put in touch with James’ Place, a charity that provides counselling and support for men going through a suicidal crisis.
Thankfully, with the support of James’ Place, David feels he’s started to turn a corner and has taken up his old hobby of photography again – something that gives him a reason to leave his home.
But when the #coronavirus #pandemic took hold of the UK in March 2020, there was no prior-warning to the scale of psychological impact it would have on the population.
Whether that was people experiencing #mentalhealthcrisis for the first time, or those Like David who were already vulnerable, the effect has been profound.
On a national level, in the six months since the restrictions began, one in five calls to #mentalhealthsupport charity Samaritans were from people who were specifically concerned about #coronavirus.
The charity acknowledged that although the #pandemic has affected everyone, research has revealed three high risk groups : middle-aged men, young people liable to self-harm and people with pre-existing #mentalhealthconditions.
In November, #mentalhealth charity Mind said calls to its helpline had increased – some days being twice the usual volume – revealing more people experiencing a #mentalhealthcrisis during the #pandemic than ever previously recorded.
The charity said the nation is in the grip of a “#mentalhealth emergency” which was further underlined by figures showing a spike in calls to Mind’s Infoline.
The now daily disclosure of figures relating to deaths, hospitalisations and infections felt to some like a distant, barely fathomable communication but to others it was already too real.
Soon it was clear the #virus coupled with the #isolation brought on by restrictions was bearing pressure on #mentalhealthservices, locally and nationally.
Dealing with grief and loss
If you have been affected by any of the details mentioned in this story there are people who can help you.
Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them.
The way grief affects you depends on lots of things, including what kind of loss you have suffered, your upbringing, your beliefs or religion, your age, your relationships, and your physical and #mentalhealth.
Grieving is a totally normal process but there are way to get help if you need support.
Your GP is a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor, or prescribe medication if needed.
Through conversations with Samaritans, James’ Place – and counselling support charities like PSS who have been forced to transfer much of their support online during the crisis – the reality behind the national figures is reflected by the experiences of those that run the essential services.
Jane Boland, senior centre manager for James’ Place said when the #coronavirus #pandemic first hit, there was a drop in people trying to access their services as people isolated themselves, as happened with David.
This led to real concerns that people weren’t voluntarily accessing essential #mentalhealth support despite them still being available.
But when the first national lockdown ended in July, more #men began to contact her organisation for help.
Jane said: “What we started to see toward the end of lockdown were people coming to us in a suicidal crisis but also with more severe symptoms of #depression than we would normally see.
“I know that sounds a bit counter-intuitive but most of the #men that we see may have more symptoms of #depression, but usually their suicidal crisis is driven by stressors – relationship breakdowns and overwhelming social stressors, not so much by severe and enduring #mentalhealth problems. People with suicidality driven by that tend to be seen by Mersey Care.”
Jane added: “I think the biggest challenge I’m seeing tends to be around #socialisolation that then becomes overwhelming.
“I spoke to one gentleman and he said for nine months the only people he’s spoken to were the GP and their receptionist, the district nurse and me.”
#Mentalhealth and #suicide support
A second group shown to have suffered extensively with their #mentalhealth during the #pandemic are #children and #adolescents.
Liverpool #Child Adolescent #MentalHealth Services (CAMHS) said that data from July to September 2020 showed demand for #children and #young peoples’ #mentalhealth support increased by 25%.
Referrals for #children and #young peoples’ #mentalhealth support increased by 30% while complexity increased as shown through increased contacts in eating disorders referrals (30% increase) and crisis 24/7 line calls at Alder Hey (70%).
This increase was mirrored in the type of contacts to Samaritans support service.
Rachel Howley, the charity’s development manager at Liverpool Samaritans said: “We saw an increase in younger people accessing our service as well.
“The majority of those concerns were general #anxiety about the future. A lot of them were getting ready to do A Levels or go off to university but they were worried about the future.”
Early research by the charity into the #mentalhealth effects of the #pandemic suggest that young people, particularly young #women, have experienced much greater declines in their #mentalhealth compared to others.
She continued: “Initially we saw a big increase in people who would normally be able to access the talking therapies that weren’t available, so people were being redirected from counsellors and psychiatrists to ring us.
“We also had an increase from people who were shielding as well. There tends to be a misconception that the Samaritans only help people who are suicidal, actually only 25% of our calls are from people who are suicidal the rest is #mentalhealth.
“We were responding to people who were very very anxious because they were locked in and they hadn’t seen anybody for weeks at a time.”
Since the second national lockdown in England on November 5, Rachel said the nature of the calls they are getting have also changed.
Adding: “We’ve had more of an increase of people with worries about redundancies. What’s going to happen when mortgage holidays end – It’s the uncertainty.
“You do wonder in years to come what effect this will have on people’s #mentalhealth, especially young people.“