May 19, 2020
As fate would have it, our new Lock and Talk Virginia website is launching at the tail end of Mental Health Awareness Month during this extraordinary health crisis. Many months ago, when we started developing a more robust site, we had no idea electronic communication would become not just a helpful tool, but vital to suicide prevention work.
Prevention specialists are justifiably concerned about the effects of the pandemic on the mental and behavioral health of our communities. According to new research released in mid-May, as many as 75,000 more people will die from drug or alcohol misuse and suicide after the emergence of COVID-19. The report is from the Well Being Trust (WBT) and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care.
Jack Westfall, MD, MPH, director of the Robert Graham Center, explained in the report that the unpredictability of our situation is unsettling and perpetuates fear and sometimes, despair.
After all, as one of my colleagues put it, aren’t we operating suddenly on the base level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need, concerned about our most basic need for safety?
This is not an optimal place to abruptly be dumped, especially for adults who, up until now, considered themselves seasoned, grounded, and in a position to protect and nurture our next generation.
In response to the daunting prediction, Westfall says that we should strive to “provide as much certainty as possible” and says we must also, “make our relationships certain, regardless of the uncertain facts and figures of the day.”
Our priority is to make appropriate and reliable resources available to website visitors. The new website is also intended help the public understand what relationships exist between Lock and Talk and agencies, organizations, and businesses, and how we united to fight suicide.
As we practice physical distancing, the new site additionally helps strengthen the communication between the behavioral health care agencies participating in the suicide prevention program, Lock and Talk Virginia.
Dr. Westfall said that it will become increasingly important to make access to care easier. We encourage you to use lockandtalk.org as a tool to access the contacts for mental and behavioral health care as well as evidence-based suicide prevention education and proven safety guidelines. Our goal is to connect visitors with the kind of help they need depending on their role or their circumstance.
Thank you for meeting us here at lockandtalk.org. Fate may play a role in the timing of this launch, but a lot of hard work from many voices gave us a new platform to connect millions of people to suicide prevention resources. We hope it will help save lives.
Today’s Parting Thought: “You can only go halfway into the darkest forest; then you’re coming out the other side.” Chinese Proverb