LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The stress from the coronavirus pandemic is not over.
It’s been and will continue to be life-altering for many people around the globe, and they may feel like there is nowhere to turn. That’s why a Louisville woman is sharing her story of overcoming a battle with depression in hopes other people will get help.
March 14, 2017 is a big day for 45-year-old Mattie Ward. It’s the day she got sober.
“I turn to get help instead of using drugs and alcohol now,” Ward said.
Ward said she has struggled with depression her entire life as she was in and out of jail. At her lowest, she wanted to die.
“I was slowly committing suicide every day when I was drinking a half gallon of vodka,” Ward said. “I would overdose a lot.”
Ward said she still struggles with suicidal thoughts, and she fears others are too right now during the pandemic. Maybe they’ve lost a loved one, their job, home and feel hopeless.
“It’s not the end of the world, it feels like it,” Ward said. “There are people out there that really care and love you.”
How the pandemic will impact suicide rates is still unknown but experts fear it will cause numbers to increase.
“Deaths of suicide, substance abuse and risky behavior might increase by 75,000 over the next few years,” Julie Cerel, director of the Suicide Exposure Lab at the UK College of Social Work. “A lot of the struggle is because of economic concern.”
Cerel said calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and crisis text line are up since March.
“We know that when unemployment goes up, suicide rates also go up,” Cerel said. “You pair that with a virus. We have kids that are home people who might be in abusive relationships stuck together.”
Getting help is critical. What gets Ward through, she reminds herself, is that she’s a mother, an inspiration to the people she is around at Seven Counties and her support group.
“Please think about somebody else before you think about yourself and don’t do it,” Ward said. “Don’t take that way out man. The people you leave behind will grieve and they don’t understand.”
The University of Kentucky College of Social Work Suicide Exposure lab is studying how suicide exposure influences others and what kind of training people need to help decrease the number of suicides.