Suicides Versus the Corona By Mrs Vera West

     The mental health fallout from the actual Covid-19 lockdowns may be greater than the actual deaths, perhaps right across the West. Consider this material on the suicide factor for example:

“Suicide rates in Australia are forecast to rise by up to 50 per cent due to the economic and social impacts of the coronavirus and tipped to outstrip deaths from the pandemic by up to 10 times. World-leading research by the country’s top mental health experts predicts the impact of the virus could result in an extra 1500 deaths a year over the next five years and a generational mental health crisis linked directly to the pandemic. The modelling, conducted by Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Centre and backed by the Australian Medical Association, is expected to be taken to national cabinet next week by Health Minister Greg Hunt ahead of an accelerated second-phase mental health package. The modelling also predicts a significant economic blow from falling productivity due to the mental health effects of unemployment, school dropouts and family crises. Regions hard-hit by a collapse in tourism are expected to be particularly vulnerable to an increase in suicide and it is feared that young people are among those most at risk. Former mental health commissioner and the head of the Brain and Mind Centre, Ian Hickie, told The Australian that the modelling showed the annual rate of suicide could rise from 3000 to up to 4500, with youth suicides making up almost half. A joint statement will be issued today by Professor Hickie, AMA president Tony Bartone and Orygen youth mental health organisation executive director Patrick McGorry, calling for urgent¬ action to address an issue which they claim will kill more people than the virus. Preliminary modelling by the Brain and Mind Centre suggests the COVID-19 pandemic may give rise to 25 per cent more suicides, with up to 30 per cent of those among young people aged 15-25 years. This was based on an unemployment rate of 10 per cent and the associated recessionary impacts. But this could rise to 50 per cent if unemployment was to peak at 15 per cent. The modelling shows hotspots in regional areas, including the Grafton and Northern Rivers regions of NSW, which have been severely hit by loss of tourism and hospitality as well as outer-metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne. “We are facing a situation where between an extra 750 and 1500 suicides may occur annually, this in addition to the 3000-plus lives that are lost to suicide already every year,” Professor Hickie said.”

     There is some literature on the growing psychological significance of these lockdowns, with people likely to be impacted for years, with an enormous, as yet unaccounted for health cost:

“Previous studies of viral epidemics indicate that the psychosocial impact can be substantial, pervasive and long-lasting, with frontline workers being at increased risk. The wide-scale implementation of social restrictions, including ‘lockdown’, across the Australian community will need to be accompanied by a range of well-coordinated, evidence-based strategies to reduce, as much as possible, the negative effects on mental health and wellbeing. Public health systems also need consistent and robust data-collection strategies that capture the psychological as well as the medical impact of pandemics, so appropriate help can be provided in a timely and effective way. In fact, there has already been a marked increase in the levels of stress and anxiety being reported in the Australian community, leading mental-health organisation Beyond Blue warn that the global pandemic could result in a rise in suicides. Unsurprisingly, the need for longer periods of social distancing may result in lower levels of compliance, and the current uncertainty surrounding the duration for which social-distancing measures will be applied seems likely to further fuel anxiety. Consequently, public messaging may now need to change from explaining why social distancing is needed, to emphasising what the benefits of complying are for stopping the pandemic in the shortest possible time. Many people are also struggling with feelings of loneliness. It’s important to highlight the distinction between social isolation – the objective state of being alone – and loneliness, which is the distressing feeling we experience when the quantity, and especially the quality, of our social relationships is less than we desire. These are two separate issues, which means that social isolation (e.g. when managing COVID-19) doesn’t inevitably mean you will feel lonely. However, the coronavirus pandemic has come at a time when loneliness is a widespread problem both in Australia and overseas. Those who were already experiencing loneliness are likely to be disproportionately affected by the social-distancing, quarantine and social-isolation measures required to manage the current crisis, since they do not take into account individual differences in social needs. This pre-existing level of loneliness cannot be separated from the necessary government response to COVID-19. However, it highlights the need for government and public-health responses to be grounded in the context, including pre-existing issues in the community. That is, to provide effective interventions for loneliness in the context of the pandemic, we need to understand the needs of specific and vulnerable groups who might experience difficulties accessing information, care and support, or who might be at higher risk of infection.”

     We have not seen anything yet.



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Wednesday, 12 June 2024

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