29.4.20

SUICIDE HOTLINE sees 800% spike in ONE week

Jobs disappearing, businesses shutting down, and separation from friends and family due to COVID-19 have placed an uncomfortable, emotional strain on people. Some describe feelings of unmanageable stress, isolation sadness and thoughts of being trapped or powerless.

With that, Former Congressman Patrick J Kennedy says calls at suicide hotlines have increased by 800 percent as resources shift to COVID-19 relief. The mental health advocate sounded the alarm at a Metro Nashville news conference, raising the question – Will the silent killer of mental illness be our country’s next major crisis?

“The tragedy of COVID is it exacerbates this already prevalent mental health and addiction crisis. No one doubts that mental health and addiction is real,” Kennedy commented. “Every single American has been faced with a mental health issue in this COVID crisis, themselves, not just a family member, but themselves.”


His short answer: yes. Kennedy believes mental illness and addiction crises are right underneath the COVID-19 emergency, not waiting to creep out.

“We ought to be concerned about people dying. Whether they’re dying of the COVID or whether they’re dying of overdose, it’s still a death and there’s not one that’s worse than the other because both deaths rob families and a loved one, and they ought to be paid attention to,” Kennedy said.

Patrick J Kennedy speaks on mental health during the COVID-19 crisis (Metro Public Health){p}{/p}
The pandemic combined with an expected economic downturn may lead to a rush of mental health struggles.

According to a report from McKinsey, many countries noticed higher rates of depression, anxiety and alcohol and drug use following the global financial crisis in 2007-08. Moving into 2008, the organization says the Great Recession carried a 13 percent increase in suicides attributable to unemployment with more than 46,000 lives lost.

A national survey conducted by the company from March 27-29 shows that people are already feeling the pressures of the pandemic. 35 percent of those surveyed felt anxious or depressed, with 42 percent of those attributing it to job reduction or loss. 53 percent of people responding to the survey said they were in moderate distress, with 27 percent in high distress. One out of four people reported binge drinking at least once a week. One out of five people said they took prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.

Reported signs of distress related to COVID-19 in the US: Graphic and study conducted by McKinsey & Company.
Using information from the U.S. Census and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the company took a deeper look at the association between inequality and the suicide rate in the U.S. Their findings illustrate a sad statistic that suicide rates spike as income equality increases in the country.

Association between income inequality and suicide rate in the US: Graphic and study conducted by McKinsey & Company.
Experts say a surge in mental health issues comes at a cost. According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety are estimated to cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

In Tennessee alone, more than 240,000 people have filed for unemployment since the beginning of the outbreak.

“COVID is an example of what happens when we’re ill-prepared. We don’t have enough personal protective equipment. We don’t have enough ventilators. We don’t have the kind of response strategy that we need,” Former Congressman Kennedy said while comparing COVID-19 to mental illness. “The question now is are we going to prepare ourselves in a way that we never prepared ourselves during the COVID crisis? What is the equivalent of personal protective equipment? What’s the equivalent of ventilators?”

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