A candle is lighted on a balcony on May 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. Darkness Into Light Brussels, a virtual #MomentofTogetherness in memory of those who have left us too soon by suicide, and in support of those of us who are living with mental health issues.
Thierry Monasse/Getty Images
A new report estimates that somewhere between 27,644 to 154,037 people could die from deaths of despair.
The Well Being Trust’s new report says it’s very likely that 75,000 additional deaths, alcohol and drug misuse, and suicide in the next decade as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Economic failure, isolation, and uncertainty are seen as key contributors to the deaths.
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As many as 75,000 additional people could die “deaths of despair” over the next decade because of the coronavirus, a new study found.
A report from the Well Being Trust said if interventions aren’t put in place, 75,000 people could die from alcohol and drug misuse, and suicide over the next 10 years.
“I hope in 10 years people look back and say, ‘Wow, they way overestimated it,'” John Westfall, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, who co-wrote the report told Bloomberg.
If the economy recovers, the report estimates 27,644 deaths but if recovery is slow as many as 154,037 could die. They anticipate it’s likely to be 75,000.
The study also noted that three factors from the current coronavirus pandemic are “exacerbating deaths of despair,” including “unprecedented economic failure paired with massive unemployment, mandated social isolation for months and possible residual isolation for years, and uncertainty caused by the sudden emergence of a novel, previously unknown microbe.”
Erice Caine, a psychiatry professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center previously told Insider that suicide goes up with economic recessions, and that’s been the case for a while.
However, Cain stressed that suicide can’t be generalized.
“I think it’s always important to think about suicide as individual vulnerabilities and context,” he said.
Caine explained that a combination of factors, from economic difficulties to isolation, could make a person feel despair and commit suicide.
“Vulnerabilities are relative to the situations people face,” Caine said.
According to an article published in the JAMA Psychiatry, suicide rates in the US were on the rise for 20 years. Bloomberg reported that despite previous growth in the economy, mental health experts are worried that the coronavirus pandemic could create the perfect storm for a rise in suicides.
Caines said that the issues that contribute to “deaths of despair” have been going on for a long time.
“When you have an emergency or crisis come along, it just amplifies it that much,” Caines said.
The Well Being Trust reported that 2017 saw the most deaths of despair than ever before, according to CBS.
Caine told Insider, that while the US may have recovered from the last recession, not everyone saw economic growth, which could be contributing to the increased suicide rate.
“Clearly, that economic growth has not moved people from under the weight,” Caine said.
In the past seven weeks, more than 33 million Americans filed for unemployment, Business Insider previously reported.
“Unemployment is going to have a very important impact on deaths of despair,” Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness told Bloomberg.
Additionally, Bloomberg reported that the number of adults who were satisfied with their lives or optimistic about the future dropped to a rate lower than the Great Recession, according to a Gallup poll of 4,000 people.
Jeffrey Reynolds, president of a Long Island-based nonprofit social services agency, the Family and Children’s Association told Bloomberg he sees a “paradox” with the lockdown.
“Social isolation protects us from a contagious, life-threatening virus, but at the same time it puts people at risk for things that are the biggest killers in the United States: suicide, overdose and diseases related to alcohol abuse,” Reynolds told Bloomberg.
Caine said one of the concerns of mental health experts is that other inequalities could be stemming from the lockdowns that could contribute to these deaths of despair, including intimate partner violence.
Caine suggested people reach out to their loved ones and stay connected despite being physically apart to help mitigate the effects of isolation.
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