California doctors warn a surge in suicides is outspacing deaths from coronavirus as pandemic lockdowns take a far greater toll on American life than the virus itself.
Dr. Mike deBoisblank who serves as the head of the trauma department at John Muir Medical Center in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay told ABC 7 his hospital has seen a “year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”
“We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” deBoisblank said, pointing at the state’s stay-home orders as the primary culprit for the spike in crises.
Now the California doctor is calling for an end to the lockdowns destroying the nation’s psyche.
“Personally, I think it’s time,” said deBoisblank. “I think originally, this (the shelter-in-place order) was put in place to flatten the curve and to make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients. We have the current resources to do that and our other community health is suffering.”
Kasey Hansen is a trauma nurse who has worked at the John Muir Medical Center for 33 years and echoed deBoisblank’s concerns.
“What I have seen recently, I have never seen before,” Hansen told ABC 7. “I have never seen so much intentional injury.”
Hansen and deBoisblank both said they were seeing most suicide deaths occur in young adults, adding that they are worried this trend will likely continue as the stress of isolation and job loss under pandemic lockdowns will contribute to seemingly unbearable anxiety.
The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255. More resources are here.
Even as states begin to reopen, life remains far from normal, and reopenings have still kept thousands of businesses closed and put millions of Americans out of work each week.
The mental health non-profit, Well Being Trust, estimates that upwards of 75,000 will ultimately succumb to the pandemic not through the virus but through deaths of despair by suicide and substance abuse. Last week, addiction expert Tim Ryan told The Federalist that relapses and drug overdoses as “through the roof” as Americans cling to numbing vices to cope.
As state and local lockdowns continue to take their crushing toll on the economy, the nation’s sanity already on the brink of collapse has begun to deteriorate under the uncertainty the pandemic presents. Extreme isolation, financial devastation, and the constant goalpost moving for a return to a semblance of normalcy have created for the perfect storm for the pandemic to exacerbate an existing mental health crisis.
Allysen Efferson, a therapist in East Tennessee told The Federalist that ending the lockdowns and allowing people to reclaim their meaning and dignity through work is one of the best first steps to rejuvenating the nation’s spirits.
“Getting Americans back to work is a way in which we can address the mental illness portion of this if not directly than indirectly,” Efferson said. “We know that in a job, people find purpose. There’s dignity in being able to provide for yourself and your family. Continuing to keep people in lockdown for the vast majority of us takes away our primary source of well-being: our job.”