Local organizations stress the importance of mental health wellness during suicide prevention week

Local organizations stress the importance of mental health wellness during suicide prevention week

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s National Suicide Prevention Week, and organizations worry about the increasing rate of suicide.

Phone and virtual help what is now being provided. However, two local organizations highlighted the importance of having a mental health wellness plan especially during this time.

“Sadly, we are seeing huge spike in suicide rates. We know that anxiety and depression, and stress levels are three times what the normal average was during this time of the COVID pandemic,” said Melissa Donahue, Director of CONCERN EAP.

Over the last few years, Tennessee has seen a higher number of deaths from suicide than anything else.

Melissa Donahue, director of CONCERN at Baptist Memorial, says they have become flexible during the pandemic to offer their services and have been successful with their telehealth services.

“People are reaching out and we’re able to see so many more people than we were before, usually about 140 folks a week at least,” said Donahue.

Grace McLaren lost her son to suicide three years ago.

In 2018 she started First Responder Coaching, which coaches people on how to recognize when someone needs help.

“Responding to when a person, not if but when a person is fragile so that they don’t become suicidal,” said Grace McLaren, First Responder Coaching.

Both McLaren and Donahue talk about the importance of creating a mental wellness plan.

“There has to be a strong metal wellness plan, and that mental wellness plan incorporates things like, ‘You know, what do I do for my own self-care?’ some people say, ‘Well I don’t have anything.’ Well there’s the problem.”

McLaren says online her organization has resources to help people create their own personal mental wellness plan.

Right now, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

In 2022, that number will go to three digits -- 988 -- making it easier for people to remember and dial.

Donahue also says people with insurance can call and ask to talk with a counselor. She also says Shelby County has community mental health centers and recommends Alliance Healthcare Services and Case Management Inc. for people without health insurance.

Below is a list of local and state mental health resources recommended by McLaren and Donahue.

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