At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists warned that economic constraints could have serious mental health consequences.
“The secondary effects of social distancing can increase the risk of suicide,” the researchers note in an April 10 article by the American Medical Association. “It is important to consider changes in various economic, psychosocial and health-related risk factors.”
In fact, the researchers warned, forced isolation could be the “perfect storm” for suicide.
Seven months later, new evidence emerges that these researchers were right.
“Many more Japanese die from suicide, which is likely to be exacerbated by the economic and social impact of the pandemic, than from the COVID-19 disease itself,” CBS News reported. “While Japan has dealt with its coronavirus epidemic much better than many other countries, keeping the death rate below 2,000 nationwide, preliminary statistics from the National Police Directorate show that in October alone, the number of suicides rose to 2,153, which means a rise in the fourth month. contract”.
For years, the number of suicides in Japan has been declining. But the advent of COVID-19 and strict regulations to curb transmission of the virus have reversed that trend.
There were 2,153 suicides reported last month, up about 600 from the previous year, with the largest increase in women, with an 80 percent increase in suicide rates, according to CBS.
“We need to take a serious look at reality,” said Katsunobu Kato, a top Japanese government official, adding that new efforts are underway to advise potential victims.
Unlike Japan, the United States has yet to release national suicide data. But anecdotal evidence suggests the United States may be fighting its own suicide epidemic.
Before the advent of the coronavirus, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in America, claiming 42,000 to 49,000 lives annually in recent years. While we don’t yet know what the casualties will be in 2020, polls show that more than half of Americans say they are mentally harmed during the pandemic, which has prompted widespread quarantine and social isolation to fight the virus.
Meanwhile, some localities report a sharp increase in the number of suicides. These include Dane County, Wisconsin, the second-largest county in the state, with youth suicide rates nearly doubling in 2020. The John Muir Medical Center, headquartered in Walnut Creek, California, has similarly reported an “unprecedented” spike in suicides in May.
“We have never seen such numbers in such a short period of time,” Dr. Michael de Boisblanc told ABC affiliate. “I mean, we’ve seen more suicide attempts in the last four weeks than in a year.”
We don’t yet know what the final U.S. suicide rate will be, but the sad truth is that the U.S. may well see growth similar to Japan’s.