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Mental health experts are seeing a rise in suicides as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - Incidents of anxiety and depression have increased in young adults since the start of the pandemic. This has some mental health experts worried that suicide among this group will also be on the rise.

Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Public Health reports between the months of March and September 319 Iowans fell victim to suicide.

Reports done by the CDC also show the number of deaths by suicide increasing in the recent years.

"The best thing you can do is to talk with them about it and figure out some options of where to go," Licensed Mental Health Counselor Caleb Hess said.

If your child brings up thoughts of suicide, mental health experts say not to panic. This may cause your child to continue to have these thoughts only to not want to bring it up again. The best thing to do is have a conversation with them, and figure out what steps to take next.

“A plethora of things can be causing those thoughts to happen. The number one thing is to find out what is causing it and work up the courage to reach out for that support," Hess said.

Some signs of suicidal thoughts to look out for in children are:

  • Self harm that is often hidden
  • Isolating from the family
  • Grades deteriorating
  • Consistently canceling plans
  • Feelings of hopelessness

“They don’t have their outlets. Most teens are sociable. They want to go out they want to interact with their friends but they can’t right now because of COVID," Hess said, "All of these things are just piled onto all these teens that already have so many problems and to us may seem small, but are big to them.”

Schools switching to an online format can also add to the stress and anxiety already present in teens and young adults. In some distrcits school counselors are still present to help students, even if they are learning from home.

"Our Counseling Team is still very much available to work with students in any area of concern (academic, career/college planning and social emotional). We can connect via the school phone, our email and/or Google meet," Waterloo West High School Counselor Marsha Watters said, "We never want students and families to feel they need to navigate this process alone."

COVID Recovery Iowa is one resource that can be used free of charge for those struggling during the pandemic. It is a FEMA funded resource that came to be in light of the increased mitigation that came with the pandemic. Their services can be found online or by phone at 844-755-9276

Your Life Iowa is another resource for those who might be struggling with their mental health. Counselors are standing by and can even meet those in need on-site with their mobile crisis teams. They can be found online or by phone at 855-581-8111.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.