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Wear the Gown: Suicide prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic

Psychiatrist Dr. Sudhakar Selvaraj, with UT Physicians, said the coronavirus is causing a collective trauma of pandemic proportions.

HOUSTON — The coronavirus has caused physical sickness and a public health crisis. Psychiatrist Dr. Sudhakar Selvaraj, with UT Physicians, said it’s also causing a collective trauma of pandemic proportions.

“People have had to change jobs, or have lost their job, and are also dealing with relationship problems, or domestic violence,” Selvaraj said.

He says prolonged anxiety can lead to depression, although not everyone who is depressed is suicidal. Still, knowing the warning signs of suicide is important:

  • Talking about death or suicide
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Giving away possessions
  • Saying goodbye to family and friends

But the toughest situations to navigate are when people don’t display any symptoms, and that’s when Selvaraj said being a good listener is crucial.

“If someone is suffering, it’s important that you listen and are not judgmental about what that person is saying. You want to build their trust,” he said.

Anyone who needs help should make an appointment with a medical professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).