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Content warning: This article contains mention of suicide and self-harm.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and community members and organizations throughout Orange County are promoting awareness and educating residents.

Thava Mahadevan, director of operations for the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, said the community is seeing a large number of individuals with anxiety and depression, from elementary-aged children to college students.

According to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics (NCSCHS), suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 18 in North Carolina and the third leading cause of death for those 19 to 34 years old.

Mahadevan said social media has a particularly strong effect on younger people. He said that after people utilize social media for a period of time, they begin to feel worse.

He added that network television and 24/7 news feeds tend to sensationalize events and cause people to feel as if the entire world is in chaos, worsening their mental health.

John Gilmore, director for the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, said the loss of a sense of community and social bonds has caused mental health to worsen both in Chapel Hill and throughout the country. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased presence of social media have contributed to that loss of social interaction, he said.

“I think that there’s a lot of forces that make that a really big problem, because we need social interactions,” Gilmore said. “We need to know our place in the community, in the world, and it’s much much harder for everybody, and especially teenagers that are just kind of learning how to do that.”

In 2020, there were 1,436 suicide deaths among North Carolina residents. In Durham and Orange Counties, 206 community members lost their lives to suicide between 2016 and 2020…read the full article here.

Suicide Prevention Resources

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat Veterans, press 1 when calling.

You are Not Alone:

For UNC Medical employees: UNC Taking Care of Our Own:

Students add notes and flowers to a memorial in the Pit on Oct. 14, 2021. The memorial commemorates students who died by suicide during the fall semester of 2021