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In addition to more than 75,000 deaths in the United States from COVID-19, the growing epidemic of “deaths of despair” is also increasing due to the COVID-19 panic, Market Watch noted this week.
Another 75,000 more people will likely die from drug or alcohol misuse and suicide, according to new research released by Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care.
“More Americans could lose their lives to deaths of despair, deaths due to drug, alcohol, and suicide, if we do not do something immediately,” the report said. “Deaths of despair have been on the rise for the last decade, and in the context of COVID-19, deaths of despair should be seen as the epidemic within the pandemic.”
Anne Case and Angus Deaton, economists at Princeton University, first chronicled these “deaths of despair” among middle-aged non-Hispanic Caucasians since 1999. They include deaths by suicide, alcohol poisoning, overdoses of opioids and other drugs, and cirrhosis of the liver.
The CDC estimates those deaths almost doubled since 1999, reaching 150,000 in 2017, Market Watch explained.
It is not just the United States that will suffer from an increase in despair-related deaths.
Thousands of Australians are expected to take their own lives because of the financial and psychological stress of the coronavirus crisis, far outstripping the death toll from the disease itself, experts warned Thursday in an article appearing in The Telegraph.
Modelling by the Brain and Mind Centre at Sydney University predicted an additional 750 to 1,500 suicides per year for up to five years as a result of the impacts of the pandemic and economic shutdowns imposed to curb its spread.
That would mark a spike of 25 to 50 percent over the 3,000 suicides usually recorded each year in the country, The Telegraph note.
By comparison, as of May 9, there were 6,846 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 35 illness-related deaths in Australia.
Unemployment the root cause for despair
Employment is the essential element of social status and it establishes a person as a contributing member of society and also has very important implications for self-esteem,” said Yale researcher M. Harvey Brenner. “When that is taken away, people become susceptible to depression, cardiovascular disease, AIDS and many other illnesses that increase mortality.”
In 2005, researcher Wade Thomas, cited these alarming statistics about deaths of despair:
“According to one study (released in 1982), a 1% increase in the unemployment rate will be associated with 37,000 deaths including 20,000 heart attacks, 920 suicides, 650 homicides, 4,000 state mental hospital admissions and 3,300 state prison admissions.”
As of May 9, according to John Hopkins University, there have been 78,792 deaths from COVID-19 with 1,309,519 confirmed cases in the United States that lead to the nationwide shutdowns.
However, according to the Associated Press, the unemployment rate in the United States as of May 8 stood at 23.6%.
If Thomas’ research is accurate, we can expect to see 873,200 deaths from despair alone.
What an unintended consequence of a nationwide lockdown that could become.