Arizona Gov. Ducey discusses suicide prevention, provides updates on COVID-19

Governor Doug Ducey held a media briefing on suicide awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day and provided an update on coronavirus in Arizona on Sept. 10.

The briefing featured health and education leaders, veterans advocates and lawmakers to highlight resources available for those struggling with their mental health, officials say. Ducey also briefed the media on the latest efforts to reduce the spread of the pandemic in Arizona.

The governor declared Sept. 6 to Sept. 12 as Suicide Prevention Awareness Week in the state.

During the event, Gov. Ducey said seniors, veterans and young people are more vulnerable during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"Many of them are struggling during this time of increased isolation and heightened stress," said Gov. Ducey.

As online learning becomes normal for students, Gov. Ducey says behavior health providers have stepped up to counsel them through mental health issues virtually.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman also talked about a difficult year for Arizona schools.

"The risk is especially pronounced for young people, especially Native American students and LGTBQ students. One loss of life is one too many," said Superintendent Hoffman.

Free suicide prevention training is being offered to school staff, but for veterans - the risk of suicide is three times higher compared to non-veterans. The state is reminding vets to use its resources.

Counseling resources are available to help struggling children, even as schools hold classes online, Gov. Doug Ducey said.

“I would like to ask all our parents, especially if your kids are still at home, to engage in that conversation and check how your child is doing,” Ducey said. “We have resources.”

The health and economic crises also take a toll on adults, including veterans, officials said, urging people to stay connected with friends and loved ones even as they maintain physical distance to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Governor also talked about pandemic

On Sept. 10, Arizona health officials reported 461 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 along with 22 more deaths on Sept. 10.

Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

The state Department of Health Services posted the latest state coronavirus data Thursday morning. A national virus hotspot in June and July, Arizona continues to show significant decreases in cases and other virus-related metrics. The number of patients hospitalized showed another day of a slight decline.

In total, Arizona has now seen 207,002 positive cases of COVID-19 and a death toll of 5,273.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

In response to more than 1,300 cumulative coronavirus cases at ASU, which is a higher number than other colleges in Arizona, Gov. Ducey gave credit to ASU President Michael Crow and other university officials.

"For really giving it the college try, and I believe they're gonna be successful in doing this, and we know that there's gonna be adjustments along the way," said Gov. Ducey.

Meanwhile, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ says a COVID-19 vaccine task force is working on the potential distribution.

"When we had this issue back in 2009 and we're responsible for getting out the 2009 influenza vaccine, we worked with very closely community partners, 'cause it's our community providers and our large mass immunizers that are gonna do the bulk of the immunizations, and so we are working to get them registered, so that they are ready to be able to receive direct shipment for a vaccine," said Dr. Christ.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

CDC: How coronavirus spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ

Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ: azdhs.gov/coronavirus

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line)

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.

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