by Daniel J. Reidenberg, Psy.D., FAPA
2020 and COVID-19 challenged all of us. While things have begun to improve, there is still work to be done. This pandemic has caused many people to experience anxiety, depression, and many other mental health issues. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, opioid overdose deaths increased 31% with a total of 490 deaths in the first half of 2020, compared to the first half of 2019 with 373 deaths. In the face of these overwhelming statistics, we must remember that resources are available. For example, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) is continuing our work to reduce stigma and prevent suicide.
SAVE is proud to partner with the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative of Minnesota (RALI). RALI has worked with local partners to find solutions to the opioid crisis. With a focus on prevention, RALI provides education on the proper use, storage, and disposal of prescription medications, as well as how to spot the signs of addiction. The RALI CARES program, an educational exhibit used to teach parents the hidden warning signs of substance misuse, has been transformed into a virtual tour that can be accessed online.
RALI and SAVE have partnered with policymakers, experts, and community leaders to continue the conversation around the convergence of COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic. Senator Zach Duckworth said, "Substance use disorders and suicide are closely connected issues that impact every community across Minnesota. I'm proud to say that we have individuals and organizations in our state who are lending their expertise to prevent further tragic losses related to addiction and suicide, but each of us can get involved to help reduce the stigma and connect people to these critical services.”
I urge all Minnesotans to take advantage of the resources at save.org for information about suicide prevention, and to check ralimn.org for education, treatment, and recovery options. If we work together, we can protect our families and communities from substance misuse and suicide.
Daniel J. Reidenberg, Psy.D., FAPA is the Executive Director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.