BATON ROUGE, La – September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds everyone that suicide deaths can be prevented by making sure you check in on yourself, your loved ones and with your health care provider and asking for help if you need it.
“It’s so important to keep an eye on your overall health and well-being, paying attention to your mental health as a key piece of that,” said Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Wigginton. “Are you struggling to get through daily tasks? Do you have overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress or depression? Have you stopped enjoying things you used to take pleasure in? Are you having a hard time making or keeping social connections? If you notice these signs, ask for help.”
If you see a family member or friend having these signs, speak up and offer your support, Dr. Wigginton said. “Knowing someone cares enough to check in with you and wants to help you can make a very big difference for someone who is struggling,” he said.
Suicides Are Increasing
According to The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is a leading cause of death. And, suicide rates have increased 30% in the past two decades. Certain groups of people, including veterans, LGBTQ individuals, particularly youth, and older men have higher rates of suicide, but people from all demographics can be at risk.
Common suicide risk factors include:
• Having severe mental illness
• Going through a very serious or disruptive life change or crisis like the death of a loved one
• Financial or legal difficulties
• Lack of access to health care
• Not feeling like you have a strong or adequate social support system
“Suicide affects people from all walks of life, which is why checking in is so important,” Dr. Wigginton said. “Look for these things happening and be prepared to seek help before things become worse, both for yourself and people close to you.”
Ways to Ask for Help
If you need help for your mental health, Dr. Wigginton recommends starting with your health care provider.
“The best time to check in on mental health is every time you have a checkup,” he said. “Let your provider know how you are doing overall. If you’re going through a challenging time, if you’re noticing changes in your moods, or you’re having issues like headaches or stomachaches that don’t have an obvious cause, bring it up during your checkup. Your provider can recommend a treatment plan for your specific situation, refer you to behavioral health specialists or prescribe medication if that’s appropriate for your situation.”
Patients now have more options to use telehealth for mental health needs. In Blue Cross’ most recent claims year, behavioral health was the top reason members used telehealth.
Blue Cross members can use BlueCare to schedule online appointments with psychology or psychiatry providers who are trained and certified in telehealth care. Create a BlueCare account at www.BlueCareLA.com or with the BlueCare (one word) mobile app for Apple and Android devices. Blue Cross also has network behavioral health providers who treat patients through telehealth. Ask your provider about options or check the online directory at www.bcbsla.com to find an in-network behavioral health provider near you who can treat you either in person or through telehealth.
In an urgent mental health situation, call 988, the national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, for immediate assistance. The hotline is available 24/7, it’s free, and your call will be kept confidential. Hotline advisers who speak English or Spanish are available, and there are options for people with hearing difficulties. There are also live chat and text options.
In June, Blue Cross and Ochsner Health presented a Spanish broadcast to share information about why it’s important to regularly check in with yourself, your loved ones and your health care provider about how you’re feeling and how well you are dealing with any challenges or stressful situations. Watch “Conversando Francamente: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body” (38:05) featuring Anselmo Rodriguez, Blue Cross manager of Supply Chain Management and chair of the insurer’s Hispanic Americans Employee Resource Group, Dr. Aldo Russo, Ochsner Health regional medical director, and Miguel Alonso of Tulane Children’s Health Project, who is a 2021 Angel Award honoree. The broadcast is in Spanish with English subtitles.
Follow Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA throughout September to see original graphic designs, videos and other messages raising awareness of suicide risks and sharing resources for treatment and support. Download, share or post these messages on your personal social media and inspire your loved ones to consider their mental health and reach out if they need help. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on mental health and other wellness topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.