Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Other COVID-19 Death Toll

 

With the media and public’s focus on the directly related COVID-19 death toll and the related economic downturn, there isn’t nearly enough attention on the mental and emotional toll this crisis is taking on millions of Americans already vulnerable to mental health or substance abuse issues. The data is sparse, but it isn’t pretty. In Tennessee, in one county (Knox) there were nine suspected suicides in 48 hours, which was 10% of the previous year’s total. In areas around the country, suicide hotlines are bracing themselves. In Los Angeles, the L.A. Times reported,

As cases mount across the country, topping 300,000 on Saturday, so too do fear and anxiety — over getting COVID-19, over loved ones who have it, over jobs lost because of it. With each day of uncertainty that passes, mental health services are becoming increasingly vital. And strained.

In New York, which has more confirmed coronavirus cases than anywhere else in the U.S., Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stressed that “the mental health impact of this pandemic is very real.” More than 6,000 mental health professionals have signed up to provide free online services in the state.

At Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, a nonprofit organization, crisis counselors fielded more than 1,800 calls related to COVID-19 in March, versus just 20 in February.

The top concerns? Anxiety and stress, health issues, relationships, loneliness and isolation. One in five COVID-19-related calls included “suicidal desire.” Although there has been only a slight uptick in overall call volume, Didi Hirsch is anticipating a huge increase in the coming months.

In Montana, the onslaught has already hit. Local news reported,

The Department of Public Health and Human Services says since March 13th they’ve seen around double the usual volume of calls to the Montana Warm-Line and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The combination of economic stress and social isolation is a perfect storm not just for those already vulnerable to suicidal tendencies, but those who may have been on more solid footing before this crisis.

It’s not just suicides, either. Anecdotally, I’ve heard from those with experience with addiction that this crisis will take a toll on those with substance abuse struggles. In Upstate New York, local news reported,

 In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a reminder of the opioid epidemic. The Oneida County Overdose Response Team on Tuesday issued a spike alert. There have been 20 overdoses in two weeks, two of them, fatal. Two of the overdoses involved synthetic marijuana and cocaine, indicating that some may be unknowingly using a harmful synthetic opioid that could increase the chance of a fatal overdose.

“Could it be more usage with the increased anxiety from this panemic? Absolutely,” says Cassandra Sheets, CEO of the Center for Family Life & Recovery. “When people are struggling with addiction, when you add more stress to it, it can compound the addiction. That’s just a given.”

Sheets says it’s too early to know for sure if there’s a correlation, adding that seasonal changes also tend to increase usage and even fatalities.

On the front lines of the opioid epidemic, and now, the coronavirus pandemic-law enforcement. First responders now have another risk factor to think about when they have to administer Narcan to a person who is overdosing.

As we consider the death toll due to COVID-19 while making public policy decisions, the death toll related to our lockdown measures must also be considered.

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  1. Ontheleftcoast Member

    That’s only one of the other death tolls. One of the items in the following story will probably contribute to another one. Emphasis added:

    The Judicial Council of California approved 11 temporary emergency measures Monday, including one to set bail to zero in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The measure directs judges to remove bail fines for misdemeanor cases and low-level felonies, as the state moves to reduce jail populations amid spread of COVID-19, the Judicial Council said after a telephone meeting.

    The decision comes after Los Angeles County implemented a zero-bail measure last week, which also aimed to reduce the number of people in county jails and courthouses, according to a statement from Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.

    Monday’s emergency approvals also included the following actions, to go into effect immediately:

    • Suspend the entry of defaults in eviction cases

    • Suspend judicial foreclosures

    • Allow courts to require judicial proceedings and court operations be conducted remotely, with the defendant’s consent, in criminal proceedings

    • Adopt a statewide emergency bail schedule that sets bail at $0 for most misdemeanor and lower-level felony offenses

    • Allow defendants to appear via counsel or remote technologies for pretrial criminal hearings

    • Prioritize hearings and orders in juvenile justice proceedings and set a structure for remote hearings and continuances

    • Extend the timeframes for specified temporary restraining orders

    • Extend the statutes of limitations governing civil actions

    • Allow electronic depositions in civil cases

    • #1
    • April 8, 2020, at 8:56 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bethany,

    This is an important story. The media is obsessed that Trump will open up the economy too soon. This is just their typical narrative first facts second mentality. We are watching the new cases start to go down and the number of deaths should follow. This is probably not due to social distancing but rather herd immunity like almost every other virus. If this is the case, by not allowing younger stronger elements of the population to go back to work, we will be delaying the full herd immunity effect and there will be a second wave of the virus because of it.

    Meanwhile, the economy is torn up by the lockdown of low-risk people. This will produce anxiety and despair to the max. Expect suicide and drug addiction amongst the poor and the young. This isn’t about the money! This is about the question of what policy will prevent the most illness. We must let the younger healthier people get back to work. Continue to protect and monitor the older population.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
    • April 8, 2020, at 9:17 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “Meanwhile, the economy is torn up by the lockdown of low-risk people. This will produce anxiety and despair to the max. Expect suicide and drug addiction amongst the poor and the young. This isn’t about the money! This is about the question of what policy will prevent the most illness. We must let the younger healthier people get back to work. Continue to protect and monitor the older population.

    Regards,

    Jim”

    Exactly!

       

     

    • #3
    • April 8, 2020, at 9:29 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    I am already starting to see people flout the social distancing as the weather gets nicer. As i said to friends at the begining of this, you have a month at best.

     

    • #4
    • April 8, 2020, at 10:26 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Roderic Coolidge

    Bethany Mandel: As we consider the death toll due to COVID-19 while making public policy decisions, the death toll related to our lockdown measures must also be considered.

    I would not assume that all this dislocation and misery is due to the efforts to suppress the virus rather than anxiety and distress about the pandemic itself. Seeing people all around stricken ill and dying isn’t good for one’s mental health. Also, the pandemic was going to produce a certain amount of economic dislocation whether the government did anything or not, and probably a lot more if the government did nothing.

    • #5
    • April 8, 2020, at 10:31 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. MarciN Member

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: As we consider the death toll due to COVID-19 while making public policy decisions, the death toll related to our lockdown measures must also be considered.

    I would not assume that all this dislocation and misery is due to the efforts to suppress the virus rather than anxiety and distress about the pandemic itself. Seeing people all around stricken ill and dying isn’t good for one’s mental health. Also, the pandemic was going to produce a certain amount of economic dislocation whether the government did anything or not, and probably a lot more if the government did nothing.

    Exactly so. 

    • #6
    • April 8, 2020, at 11:08 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: As we consider the death toll due to COVID-19 while making public policy decisions, the death toll related to our lockdown measures must also be considered.

    I would not assume that all this dislocation and misery is due to the efforts to suppress the virus rather than anxiety and distress about the pandemic itself. Seeing people all around stricken ill and dying isn’t good for one’s mental health. Also, the pandemic was going to produce a certain amount of economic dislocation whether the government did anything or not, and probably a lot more if the government did nothing.

    Absolutely! 

    • #7
    • April 8, 2020, at 1:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like