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Second Lady Karen Pence taking lead role in suicide-prevention initiative during coronavirus outbreak

Karen Pence

WASHINGTON – Second Lady Karen Pence is promoting a suicide-prevention initiative recently created by the Trump administration to help veterans but also being used to reach out to all Americans struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

Announcing her new role as lead ambassador for the task force Friday, Pence said that paying attention to emotional well-being is just as important as washing hands, social distancing and other measures to combat COVID-19.

“This isn’t an option; it’s a necessity,” Pence said.

President Donald Trump has said that the devastating economic effects of the health crisis are going to increase depression and the number of suicides.

“Take a look at what happens in a really horrible recession or worse,” Trump said Sunday. “So you’re going to have tremendous suicides.”

Second Lady Karen Pence

About four in ten U.S. residents have already lost a job or income due to the crisis, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday that was conducted March 25-30. Nearly half said that worry and stress related to coronavirus is affecting their mental health.

The administration last year created a suicide prevention task force run out of the Veterans Affairs Department.

Pence had already made assisting military families one of her top initiatives as second lady.

On Friday, she encouraged Americans to reach out to military families but also to anyone who might be struggling, vulnerable and scared.

Pence said her own family is tending to their mental health by regularly connecting by phone or FaceTime, exercising and trying to eat right.

“For me, art is important to my mental health and well being, so I’m working on a painting right now,” she said. “Find out what works for you, whether it’s exercise, gardening, prayer, cooking, reading or any other activity that engages you and your family in positive acclivities and plan these activities into your day.”

And, Pence added: “It’s OK to ask for help.”

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