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Social connectedness is key. At a time when connectedness has been challenged beyond our imagination, all Americans play a role in suicide prevention. #BeThere. 

September marks Suicide Prevention Month. Just as we are protecting our physical health right now, we must also take care of our mental health as we navigate this pandemic. 

Help is available. 

As a behavioral healthcare provider right here in the Mid-South and located in Olive Branch, MS Our team at Parkwood Behavioral Health System is dedicated to changing the national narrative about suicide in a manner that promotes hope, resiliency, connectedness and recovery. Mental health services, evidence-based treatments and support are available – through both in-person and virtual platforms. 

If someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, free 24/7 confidential services are available including: 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved 

ones. 

• Trevor Lifeline, the only national 24/7 lifeline for LGBTQ youth is 1-866-488-7386. 

Veterans Crisis Line, for U.S. Military Veterans, call 1-800-273-8255, press 1. Parkwood Behavioral Health System provides no-cost assessments, call 662-895-4900. 

Research indicates that a sense of belonging and social connectedness improves physical, mental and emotional well-being. In fact, connectedness is a proven protective factor against suicide. 

It is possible to remain socially connected while practicing physical distancing during this time of COVID 19. Make it a point to call a family member or friend and make an emotional connection each day. Use electronic means (Zoom, FaceTime) to connect. Showing sincere interest in another person's life can build stronger relationships, and listening to others' issues can help shed new light and perspective on our own challenges. 

While we do not definitively know how this pandemic might impact the U.S., we do know that the number of suicides has increased over the past months, as have calls to the Help Lines. Risk factors for suicide include isolation, financial strain, increased substance use and physical health issues - all factors experienced by our society and exacerbated during this crisis. We want our community to know there are actions that can help. Effective programs and services exist... and assistance is available. 

Know someone who may need help? Reach out. Direct them to a Crisis Line or to a Behavioral Health provider. In case of emergency, call 911. We all have a role to play in suicide prevention, not only during the month of September but all year long. 

Vince Brummett is the CEO and Managing Director at Parkwood Behavioral Health System in Olive Branch

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