A recent round of data from a national Canadian Mental Health Association study shows an increase in feelings of hopelessness amongst Canadians as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to deepen.
“In pre-pandemic days about 2.5 percent of our population indicated having suicidal thoughts in the past year and in our latest wave of data we now see that it is sitting at 10 percent,” said UBC researcher Emily Jenkins.
“The implications that this has, to move from suicidal thinking into suicidal actions especially as the pandemic conditions persist, is what is quite worrying right now,” Jenkins added.
And while Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time of year, for some it can increase those feelings of despair, stress and anxiety.
“There is just so much that is piled on people in terms of shopping, food preparation, holiday making,” said Margaret Eaton the CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“Then when we think about this year it’s even perhaps more stressful as we think about who is in our bubble, who is out, who can we see or not see,” Eaton said.
So, in order to manage holiday stress, Eaton suggests keeping it simple this year when it comes to holiday gift giving expectations.
“We know that financial stress is so difficult and especially right now a lot of people have lost work or on benefits so it’s really important not to over spend.”
Eaton encouraged people to plan ahead in order to stay connected virtually.
“Connection might mean something different this year it can mean the Zoom call or the Facetime chat,” explained Eaton.
But most importantly recognize that if it all is becoming too much, it’s okay to reach out for help.
“I would say err on the side of checking in rather than waiting until it becomes overwhelming so please get in touch,” Eaton said.
According to Jessica Samuels, CMHA Kelowna’s associate director of Community Engagement, it can be hard to find help when you are having trouble coping.
“It can be tough to know what help is right for you, so we encourage people to go to cmhakelowna.org and click on Find Help Now, for a full list of resources,” Samuels said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
Learn more about how to help someone in crisis here.