The state of Connecticut has received a five-year grant for efforts to prevent suicide amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was awarded to the Connecticut Department of Public Health and will run through Aug. 31, 2025. The governor's office said it will be a joint effort between DPH, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, and UConn Health.
Officials said seven youth have died by suicide in 2020. Four were since October.
Between 2015 and 2019, 403 people died of suicide in Connecticut, officials said.
Officials addressed several way the pandemic has taken a toll on people across the state.
“I hear the economic anxiety every day,” Gov. Ned Lamont said, adding that he's working to keep businesses open.
Calls that have come in to the 211 hotline since the pandemic began have ranged from people seeking health information, to people calling about unemployment and economic concerns as well as children calling because of the stress and emotional toll social isolation has taken.
“I can feel the stress building again,” Lamont said during the news conference.
In April, early in the pandemic, calls coming in to the 211 hot line were health related.
Then calls were about claims for unemployment and economic concerns.
“And then, on that 211 hot line, we started hearing from kids who had been isolated for an awful long time. We call it quarantine. They call it isolation,” he said.
Now it's all three.
When asked what he's hearing from residents, he said, "I hear a lot of, ‘not again.’ I hear a lot of, ‘I thought we had a light at the end of the COVID tunnel and it looks like it is receding,'” Lamont said.
“I hear the economic anxiety every day. We’re trying our best to keep the economy going safely,” Lamont added.
Another toll the pandemic has taken is put victims of domestic violence in a precarious position during quarantine when they lived with someone abusing them.
To keep people safe, families were put in hotels to keep them safe and it comes at a cost of more than $390,000 between March and August.
“This grant will enable us to enhance our suicide prevention efforts and link those impacted to appropriate treatment,” said in a statement. “Mental health issues continue to be a growing concern across our country, impacting people of all backgrounds, and we have strong partnerships in Connecticut among many organizations to connect people to adequate support. I strongly encourage anyone in need of help to call 2-1-1 any time and speak to trained staff for assistance.”
Lamont was joined at a news conference by officials from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Department of Children and Families, the Department of Correction, and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, according to an announcement from the governor's office.
The Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board recently released its Suicide Prevention Plan 2025. The plan is available online at www.preventsuicidect.org/preventionplan.
SUICIDE PREVENTION: For more information regarding suicide prevention or if you or someone you know is in crisis, call 2-1-1 or visit www.preventsuicidect.org.