As COVID-19 claims the lives of some of those infected, it is also responsible for a number of deaths that may not make the official tally, a new study finds. “As the world continues to struggle against the coronavirus, and the U.S. is hit with a record number of cases, a new paper in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity points to a troubling trend of global COVID-19 suicides,” reports Psychology Today. “Using cases of COVID-19-related suicides in the U.S., Italy, Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, and Bangladesh, the authors highlight four major risk factors.”
Suicide is a Risk
The study’s authors go on to delineate the reasons why suicides may be on the rise.
1) “Social Isolation/distancing induce a lot of anxiety in many citizens of different countries. However, the most vulnerable are those with existing mental health issues like depression and older adults living in loneliness and isolation,” report the authors. “Such people are self-judgemental, have extreme suicidal thoughts. Imposed isolation and quarantine disrupts normal social lives and created psychological fear and feeling like trapped, for an indefinite period of time.”
2) “Worldwide lockdown creating economic recession: The looming economic crisis may create panic, mass unemployment, poverty and homelessness will possibly surge the suicide risk or drive an increase in the attempt to suicide rates in such patients,” they say.
3) “Stress, anxiety and pressure in medical healthcare professionals are at immense and at the peak. 50% of the medical staff in the British hospitals are sick, and at home, leaving high pressure on the remaining staff to deal with the situation. In King’s College Hospital, London, a young nurse took her own life while treating COVID-19 patients,” say the authors.
4) “Social boycott and discrimination also added few cases to the list of COVID-19 suicides. Mamun MA et al., 2020 reported the first COVID19 suicide case in Bangladesh, where Zahidul Islam, a 36-year-old man committed suicide due to social avoidance by the neighbors and his moral conscience to ensure not to pass on the virus to his community,” they write.
How to Manage Stress During COVID-19
The study’s authors present some options about how to manage stress during the pandemic. “Different approaches need to be implemented to deal with COVID-19 related psychological stress,” they write. “Emotional distress people need to first set the limit of COVID-19 related news consumption from local, national, international, social and digital platform and the sources must be authentic like CDC and WHO. One needs to maintain connectedness and solidarity despite the physical distance. Individuals with the previous history of suicidal thoughts, panic and stress disorder, low self-esteem and low self-worth, are easily susceptible to catastrophic thinking like suicide in such viral pandemic. Indirect clues need to be noticed with great care, where people often say ‘I’m tired of life’, ‘no one loves me’, ‘leave me alone’ and so on. On suspecting such behaviour in person, we can pull together the people struggling with suicidal ideation to make them feel loved and protective.”
If you or anyone you know may be feeling this way, please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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