There is no doubt that COVID-19 (commonly known as the coronavirus) is contributing to thousands of premature deaths across the United States. But it is also worth noting that the “new normal” of quarantining and self isolation may be increasing that fatality count as well. Beyond sickness, people are succumbing to overdoses and even suicides as they battle the depressive feelings that accompany this loneliness. It is certainly a topic worth bringing up, in our opinion, and it was recently covered by ABC News.
The ABC article starts out by highlighting another medical pandemic that occurred over a century ago. The Spanish Flu claimed thousands of lives back in 1918. But researchers later discovered that it had a tremendous ripple affect that impacted people’s mental health for decades to come.
That particular pandemic led to a dramatic rise in people taking their own lives. There were also long lasting mental issues associated with the Spanish Flu, leading to alcoholism and severe depression. ABC then highlighted the rise of HIV/AIDS in the late 1980’s and how that health crisis fueled even more addictions and suicides.
New York City Hospital emergency room psychiatrist Dr. Shailinder Singh was quoted in the piece and emphasized the risks that situations like these may be causing.
“This is an unprecedented event for the vast majority of people. It is certainly reasonable to expect the risk of suicide increasing secondary to the economic and social fallout,” Dr. Singh told ABC. “And let’s not forget; according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, people are more likely to die of suicide if they also have experienced substance abuse. Drugs can create mental highs and lows that worsen suicidal thoughts. And more than 1 in 3 people who die from suicide are under the influence of alcohol at the time of death.”
It is a sad but true fact. Substance abuse can greatly increase the likelihood of someone taking their own life; particularly if they’re battling ongoing depression. And in this current state, people are experiencing unemployment, loneliness and the possible loss of friends or family members.
Even more scary is the latest weapons stat released by ABC. Their reporters claim that there has a 73 percent increase in background check applications for gun purchases since COVID-19 began. We strongly hope this isn’t coming from people who may be contemplating suicide.
We strongly urge anyone battling addiction and/or depressive thoughts to reach out for support. This is an extremely stressful time, so please know there are people available to help.