‘The numbers are unprecedented’: Doctors say suicide rates are up amid COVID-19 pandemic

As of Friday evening, the COVID-19 pandemic had claimed the lives of more than 95,000 Americans, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University. But that doesn’t include those who have lost their lives from an entirely different public health crisis — one that has nothing to do with viruses and vaccines.

According to the Washington Examiner, doctors in California are reporting that suicide rates are up dramatically in the state, with one physician telling reporters that he’s seen a “year’s worth of suicides” just in the last month.

The numbers are unprecedented,” Dr. Michael deBoisblanc told ABC7 News in San Francisco, according to the Examiner.

“Community health is suffering”

The John Muir Medical Center physician also has a clear stand on whether to end widespread lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus: “Personally, I think it’s time.”

“I think, originally, this was put in place to flatten the curve and to make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients,” deBoisblanc said, according to the Examiner. “We have the current resources to do that, and our other community health is suffering.”

DeBoisblanc isn’t the only medical professional to report that the lockdown measures have been accompanied by a massive upswing in these tragic incidents. Kacey Hansen, who has worked as a trauma nurse for over three decades, told ABC7: “What I have seen recently, I have never seen before… I have never seen so much intentional injury,” she added, according to the Examiner.

“Deaths of despair”

That there is a spike in deaths by suicide would come as no surprise to Benjamin Miller, who helped author a study earlier this year that predicted the pandemic and associated policies would result in 75,000 “deaths of despair,” as CBS News reported. In addition to suicide, the term also covers lives lost to drug overdose and alcohol poisoning.

According to Miller, at least part of the increase in those tragedies has to do with the recent economic downturn. “People have to be working and we have to get people connected to other people,” Miller told CBS earlier this month.

Indeed, a single county in Tennessee lost more people to suicide in March than the entire state had lost to COVID-19 at that point — and some pointed to joblessness as a cause.

“The truth is, a sick economy produces sick people,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs told The Tennessee Star.

On May 11, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 20 million Americans lost their jobs in April, pushing the unemployment rate to a staggering 14.7%, according to ABC News. Now, The Washington Post is reporting that nearly 40 million Americans are unemployed.

How much longer can we keep this up?

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