Trauma doctors at a northern California medical center say the hospital has seen a huge spike in suicide attempts amid the coronavirus COVID-19 lockdowns.
Dr. Mike deBoisblanc, head of the trauma at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek near San Francisco, said the loss of more than 37 million jobs across the country amid state shutdowns of businesses deemed “nonessential” and lengthy lockdowns have affected mental health.
“We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” he said. “I mean we’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks,” deBoisblanc told ABC-7.
Kacey Hansen has worked as a trauma nurse at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek for almost 33 years. She is worried because not only are they seeing more suicide attempts, she says they are not able to save as many patients as usual.
“What I have seen recently, I have never seen before,” Hansen said. “I have never seen so much intentional injury.”
DeBoisblanc said the lockdowns and quarantines must end.
“Personally I think it’s time,” deBoisblanc said. “I think, originally, this [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 patients. We have the current resources to do that and our other community health is suffering.”
Executive Director Tom Tamura said that people who are struggling need to seek help. “With help comes hope. I think that there are people and organizations out there that you can contact that can get you the information you need and resources you need to get you through this tough time.”
“Generally speaking the vast majority of people say they feel better after they call and get the resources they need,” he said.
Tamura said it’s understandable that people are having a difficult time during the lockdowns.
“I think people have found themselves disconnected from the normal supportive networks that they have, churches and schools and book clubs, you name it,” Tamura said. “And that, coupled with the closure of some counseling services, people were maybe in a little bit of shock.They were trying to weather the storm a bit but as that isolation has grown people have come to realize this isn’t a sprint it is marathon.”
The death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 100,000, according to Johns Hopkins. But the lockdowns could cause 77,000 deaths from suicides and drug overdoses, New York physician Dr. Nicole Saphier told DailyMailTV.
Dr. Saphier pointed to stark warnings from cities across the country showing rocketing overdose death rates, while a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that each 1% increase in unemployment led to a 3.3% spike in drug overdoses and 1% increase in suicides.
‘The economy should be considered a public health emergency,’ Dr. Saphier told DailyMailTV. ‘The indirect consequences of the pandemic may far outweigh those of the direct virulence of the virus.’
‘Suicide, drug use, alcoholism, domestic violence have all been shown to increase during periods of strife and increased unemployment. This as depression and anxiety sets in with the uncertainty of the economic future of individuals and the country as a whole.’