Government-mandated shutdowns over the coronavirus pandemic could lead to as many as 75,000 deaths, a new study shows.
The study published Friday by Well Being Trust (WBT) found that the pandemic could cause an additional 75,000 “deaths of despair,” including deaths from suicide and drug overdoses. The study identified the cause of these deaths as “unprecedented economic failure paired with massive unemployment, mandated social isolation for months and possible residual isolation for years, and uncertainty caused by the sudden emergence of a novel, previously unknown microbe.” (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Fauci Say Coronavirus ‘Not A Major Threat’ To The U.S.)
Benjamin Miller, WBT’s chief strategy officer warned that the country cannot continue to ignore the collateral damage being caused by the coronavirus.
“Undeniably policymakers must place a large focus on mitigating the effects of COVID. However, if the country continues to ignore the collateral damage—specifically our nation’s mental health—we will not come out of this stronger,” Miller wrote. “If we work to put in place healthy community conditions, good healthcare coverage, and inclusive policies, we can improve mental health and well-being. With all the other COVID-related investments, it’s time for the federal government to fully support a framework for excellence in mental health and well-being and invest in mental health now.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 8, 2020
The study found that 27,644 people will die from deaths of despair under the best case scenario, while over 150,000 could die under the worst case scenario. The study identified the country’s skyrocketing unemployment rate as a leading factor contributing to these deaths, writing that “Unemployment is an undeniable risk factor for suicide and drug misuse as well as decrease in overall health status.” The U.S. unemployment rate currently sits at nearly 15%, its highest rate since the Great Depression. Most of the U.S. economy has been closed since March, although some states have recently reopened in an attempt to stave off economic catastrophe.
Deaths of despair were already on the rise before the pandemic, with both suicide and drug overdose rates having skyrocketed in recent years.