Going it alone: Suicide prevention in San Diego, where to turn if you need help

The number of suicides in 2020 are on a downward trend, however, calls to mental health professionals have increased. If you need help call 888-724-7240.

By: Kelly Hessedal

SAN DIEGO — More and more San Diegans are struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic like depression and anxiety. The holidays can sometimes make those feelings even stronger.

“We’re seeing higher incidents of anxiety, depression,” said Dr. Chris Gordon, chief medical officer at The Family Health Centers of San Diego, the largest mental health care provider in San Diego.

According to Gordon, there’s been a 30 percent increase in patients reaching out for help during the pandemic.

“We have to understand our lives have been turned completely upside down and it’s ok to not feel good about that. It’s ok to feel sad, to feel anxious,” he said.

Last week,16-year-old Spencer Smith of Brunswick, Maine, took his own life.

“He was loved by so many. It’s hard to believe he was this depressed that he did this,” said his father, Jay Smith, during an interview with our sister station WCSH-TV.

In the note the teen left behind, he wrote about feeling “locked in the house” and “growing apart from friends.” His dad said his son had been excited for the upcoming football season but when it was cancelled, he was devastated.

“The kids need their peers more than ever now,” said Smith.

The feelings of depression and isolation are familiar to Reico Hopewell.

“I always felt insecure, less than, not enough,” he said. “I just felt like I didn’t fit in.”

“My first suicide attempt was when I was 19 years old, and there were three more after that,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

In San Diego County there have been 320 suicides so far in 2020, which is on a downward trend compared to 428 suicides in 2019 and 465 suicides in 2018.

However, according to Gordon, the number of people seeking treatment is up.

“We definitely have people with higher levels of active drug and alcohol use, and definitely people that are coming in more frequently for mental health concerns,” he said.

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