To the editor:

For the first time in a century, a public health emergency is taking a toll on everyone. Regardless of who you are or where you live, the coronavirus has caused isolation, loneliness, fear and anxiety. People who typically enjoy great mental health are feeling the effects of a prolonged episode of stress. Those with serious behavioral health issues are truly struggling during this crisis.

“I feel hopeless” is a phrase that people in my profession hear quite often these days.

It’s important to note that the vast majority of people who feel despair don’t take their own lives. They seek help and get better. Calls to the Brien Center are up and our staff is meeting the need. Yet this pandemic has thrown us into uncharted waters and we won’t know for a long time its full impact on those living with mental illness and/or addiction.

Typically in October, many individuals and organizations participate in the Berkshire County Out of the Darkness Community Walk, when hundreds of our friends and neighbors raise awareness about suicide prevention and offer support to those affected by suicide. Because of the pandemic, the event will be different this year. Rather than everyone meeting at the Common in Pittsfield — as we did last year — individuals and groups will select their own time and routes. Sometime during October, they will walk to acknowledge all of the ways in which suicide has affected our lives and our loved ones.

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Please join us. During the past seven months, we’ve helped each other in ways we never imagined would be necessary. The Berkshire County Out of the Darkness Community Experience is another opportunity to demonstrate that we live in a place where people care about each other. Despite the uncertainties of a global pandemic, we can still provide help and hope to those affected by suicide.

More information can be obtained at afsp.org/massachusetts.

M. Christine Macbeth, ACSW, LICSW, Pittsfield

The writer is the president and CEO of the Brien Center.