You too often hear about COVID-19 being responsible for deaths by sickness and by “too often” I mean that many of the deaths related to COVID-19 aren’t really caused by the virus at all. As the CDC reported, 94 percent of COVID-19 deaths had other contributing causes.
One kind of COVID-19 death not spoken about as often as it should be is the emotional impact the isolation has on our mental state. Suicides and “despair deaths” are on the rise. The Wisconson State Journal reported that in Wisconsin’s second-most populous county, suicides have skyrocketed among the youth in particular a whopping 90 percent.
Among people age 24 and younger, 15 suicides were reported as of mid-September, up from eight for all of last year. Suicides are also up for ages 25 to 38, according to this year’s unofficial data, Flanagan said.
“When people are lonely, it’s really hard to cope,” she said. “The specificity about COVID social distancing and isolation that we’ve come across as contributing factors to the suicides are really new to us this year.”
Pediatrician Dr. Katy Cahill at the Associated Physicians in Madison told the Journal that she and other primary care doctors have seen more teenage patients with confirmed cases of depression. This depression affects kids of all ages including early elementary school students. According to Cahill, parents are reporting their young children crying at night and exhibiting sad behaviors in general.
“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard parents say that they feel like their children have wilted,” said Cahill. “We definitely have seen an uptick in mental health concerns across all ages, which is really sad and concerning to us.”
A national survey found that more than 5,000 adults have considered suicide within the past 30 days, 245.5 percent of whom were aged 18-24.
While this is shocking, it’s not surprising. Doctors have been warning of the rise in “despair deaths” since May. CBS News reported then that the steps taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 would have devastating effects on the mental state of Americans and that they anticipated suicides to spike due to things such as fear and dread, isolation, and even unemployment.
Researchers predicted that a total of 75,000 additional deaths would occur before the pandemic was over.
While states run by Republican governors tend to see more freedoms, blue state governors and city leaders have been far harsher in their lockdown strategies, bringing about more unemployment and isolation. It’s unclear if and when these lockdowns will be released for many.