More Americans could die from depression-led suicide than coronavirus in lockdown, say California doctors
President Donald Trump feared during the early stages of the lockdown that people would go into depression and eventually start committing suicide. During a coronavirus briefing at the White House in late March, the president had said that his administration was eyeing an early reopening (by Easter) so that people were not pushed to take drastic steps. He warned that the cure should not be worse than the problem.
Trump could not reopen the country by Easter and even now, the federal functioning in the US is deeply divided over the idea of reopening even as the lockdown has taken a toll on the economy. Now, nearly two months after he made his sinister prediction, doctors in northern California have started validating his theory. Medical experts have revealed to the media that they were now apparently seeing more deaths from suicide than Covid-19 which has claimed more than 94,000 lives in the US so far. More than 1.5 million people have been affected in the country.
Speaking to ABC 7 News, doctors at John Muir Medical Center (JMMC) in Walnut Creek, California, confirmed the same. They believe that keeping in mind people's mental sufferings caused by the lockdown, it is important to end the shelter-in-place order. "Personally I think it's time. 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-19 patients. We have the current resources to do that and our other community health is suffering," Dr Mike deBoisblanc was quoted as saying.
"We've never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time," he said, adding: "I mean we've seen a year's worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks." Nearly 40 million people have lost jobs in the US in a span of nine weeks because of lockdown restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The prolonged lockdown is causing people economic and mental sufferings and in many states, they have resorted to anti-lockdown protests and locked horns with state administrations that have refused to lift the order.
Kacey Jansen, a trauma-center nurse working at JMMC for over three decades, said she is not only worried about the growing number of suicide attempts but also about the hospital's capacity to save as many patients. "What I have seen recently, I have never seen before. I have never seen so much intentional injury," she said, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.
Even though California is known to be a state that defies Trump, businesses across the Golden State have started violating the stay-at-home orders imposed by its Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. Hundreds have come out on the streets saying the orders were meant to flatten the curve of the virus' outbreak, something the governor himself admitted was achieved in the middle of April.
Tennessee's alarming suicide rates
California is not the only state which is facing the problem. In March-end, it was locally reported that more people died of suicide than coronavirus in a single county (Knox) in Tennessee in a week. County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said "a sick economy produces sick people".
In early May, a published study indicated that conditions created from the coronavirus' outbreak like job losses, isolation and uncertain future could lead to 75,000 deaths from drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. Another study conducted by Just Facts also suggested something similar. Based on scientific data, it concluded that stress is one of the deadliest health hazards and factors like home restrictions, business closures and concerns over the virus could eventually cost more lives than those saved by the lockdown.