Taniqua Pennix, April 23, 2020
Gainesville, Fla — Alachua City Officials recognize the emotional toll COVID-19 has placed on people, so they are partnering with mental health experts to see how they can provide more resources for mental health in the community.
Over the past couple of weeks first responders with Gainesville Fire rescue said they’ve responded to an increase of possible suicides.
“We know we have an environment right now that is really opening a lot of different stressors,” said Deputy Fire Chief Joanne Rice.
The Deputy Chief said they don’t know if it is directly related to COVID-19 but it’s still alarming.
“You can’t really pinpoint it and say it was directly related to this and that, the hard part about suicide is, it’s very personal , it’s difficult for the family, it’s difficult times for the individual,” she said.
Meridian Behavioral Healthcare offers telehealth services where people can receive professional help online.
Joy Riddle, with Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, said they are prepared and ready. “When all of this started we were seeing about 35 clients now we’re seeing over 400..and we have the capacity, still to double that, ” she said.
Recently, Riddle said a benefactor donated 15,000 dollars, so they could purchase tablets and data for their clients who don’t have access to technology.
The director of The Alachua County Crisis Alexandra Martinez said during these times it’s important for people to have conversations and know they are not alone.
“We’ve talked to many people who are really struggling and not sure, if what they are feeling is normal, and the reality is, it’s a normal response to trauma that comes with the situation we are in,” Martinez said.
The Alachua County Crisis Center hotline is available 24 hours for those who need it. The number is 352-264-6789.
More available resources:
Alachua County Critical Information Line 311 or 352-264-6557
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Resources:
Ayuda en Espanol
Options For Deaf + Hard of Hearing
Disaster Distress Helpline
Other local resources:
NAMI COVID information Guide
Meridian Behavioral Healthcare