Suicides & Overdoses: The Coronavirus Deaths Nobody Is Talking About

Suicides & Overdoses: The Coronavirus Deaths Nobody Is Talking About

By KCLA | May 21st, 2020 | Categories: Anxiety, Depresssion, Suicide, Stress, Mental Health

When we imagine the victims of coronavirus (COVID-19), we think of the thousands of Americans who have lost their lives in this pandemic. We think of the people who may spend weeks fighting for their lives dealing with headaches, fevers, and shortness of breath that leave them in critical condition. We don’t necessarily think of the people who have taken their lives – whether by suicide or accidental overdose – because they too lost the fight against unforeseen  demons most likely spawned or worsened by COVID-19.

 

Over the past two months, we’ve watched helplessly as the number of confirmed cases and death rates grow. California’s efforts to flatten the curve have been successful in order to not overwhelm our healthcare system, but it has come at a cost. According to new death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), total deaths in seven states that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic are nearly 50% higher than normal year-over-year. While that’s largely due to the effects of COVID-19, it’s likely not the only culprit.

 

Coronavirus-Related Deaths

Deciphering virus-related deaths from other deaths has proven remarkably complicated due to test shortages, the absence of a uniform national system for investigating deaths, and a general lack of understanding about the virus. We don’t yet know precisely when coronavirus first impacted the U.S., and the way in which it attacks a person’s health has caused many deaths to be mislabeled as pneumonia, a common complication in severe cases. Fear of the virus has also caused people to die at home, opting to avoid seeking medical help at hospitals where the risk of potential exposure is elevated. This has led health experts to believe that the spike in recent deaths reflects not only an undercounting of coronavirus deaths, but also a surge in deaths from other related causes.

Without more data, it’s unclear just how many people’s health and mental wellbeing is being impacted by this pandemic. What we do know is what we’re hearing firsthand from other medical professionals on the frontlines, and we’re learning that there are four times more suicides and substance abuse overdoses in their hospitals’ ICUs than coronavirus cases. 

As California and other states begin to move past the peak of reported illnesses and deaths, local, state, and federal leaders are creating both short- and long-term plans for reopening the state without causing a second wave of illnesses. While many view this as premature, others who are battling depression and violence within their home see this as a lifeline, like the light at the end of their dark, self-quarantine tunnel.

Not everyone feels “safer at home.” Isolation, unemployment, lack of accountability, and unstructured days can lead to experiencing a loss of self which could trigger or worsen depression. There are also men, women, and children who are shut in with their emotional and physical abusers 24/7. If you’re affected by coronavirus in any of the following ways, we want you to know that you matter, too. Our family here at Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles hears you, sees you, and is here for you. 

 

Suicidal Ideation

Spring is the time of year when suicides start to peak. Add in a global pandemic, pre-existing disorders, and several factors known to exacerbate anxiety and depression, and we may find ourselves facing an even bigger health crisis.

People who suffer from mental health issues are at a higher risk of dying by suicide than the general population. One-half to two-thirds of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depressive episodes associated with either major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. 

Risk factors and common precipitants of suicidal acts in people with mood disorders include:

  • Interpersonal losses (death or divorce)
  • Financial trouble 
  • Job problems
  • Alcohol and/or drug dependence or misuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Poor social support

Many, if not all, of these risk factors and common precipitants are currently being felt during our “safer at home” self-quarantine days. And while most people will recover and move on from this experience, those predisposed to or diagnosed with mood disorders may not, leaving them susceptible to suicide.

Healthcare professionals on the frontline are also experiencing devastating trauma; the virus has even caused one doctor with no history of mental illness to take her life.  Dr. Lorna M. Breen, who worked at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, described the onslaught of patients who were dying before they could even be taken out of ambulances.

If you or someone you care about is having thoughts of suicide, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away at 1-800-273-8255. For those looking for help, Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles is open, taking every precaution against the virus, and has an extremely high success rate helping those with suicidal ideation; more than 85% experience rapid relief within days. .

 

Substance Abuse

There’s no shortage of memes, videos, and social media posts that make light of using alcohol and other drugs as an outlet for dealing with self-quarantine stress. Parent wine culture has hit an all-time high as parents take on even more responsibilities without the support of daycares and schools and the relief that social outings can provide. While funny to many people, normalizing substance abuse is detrimental to those with a history of addiction or suffering from mood disorders.

Substance abuse and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are closely linked. Alcohol and drugs are often used to self-medicate in an effort to alleviate the symptoms of mental health issues. Drinking and drug use can also increase the underlying risk for mental disorders. Lastly, alcohol and drugs have been known to exacerbate negative mood disorder symptoms.

Boredom and high-strung emotions are problems when it comes to substance abuse. Unfortunately, stay-at-home orders have caused many of us to find ourselves attempting to manage our boredom and emotions in this unhealthy manner. Abusing substances due to job loss, finances, and strained relationships may start off as typical excuses, but could quickly escalate to the point of self-medicating. 

If you recognize the need to quit and are looking for professional help, consider Ketamine Infusion Therapy. Several studies show a positive correlation between Ketamine Infusion Therapy and reduced used of alcohol and opioids

 

PTSD

There has been much talk about the anxiety, panic, and fear that makes up our current mental health crisis related to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. What hasn’t been widely acknowledged is its impact as a psychological trauma crisis for some. A “trauma” is a highly stressful and shocking event that affects a person’s ability to cope. A “psychological trauma” refers to someone’s subjective experience of an event, and to what extent they believe their life, bodily integrity, or psychological well-being was threatened.

How you react to COVID-19, whether it be with intense fear, horror, numbness, or helplessness, can be an indicator of whether you’ll come out of this experiencing intense post-trauma symptoms. If you’ve lost a loved one due to the illness, lost your job, or gotten a divorce as a result of the pandemic, the risks for these symptoms may be increased. These are all traumatic situations that people are currently facing without knowing when things will return to “normal.”

Many will experience PTSD symptoms, and many will go on to naturally recover. It’s important to process your thoughts and emotions following a traumatic experience. If that’s not enough, KCLA offers an alternative approach: Ketamine Infusion Therapy. Ketamine Treatment may help PTSD patients and give them a safe and effective medical alternative to antidepressants.

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a long-term disorder that occurs as a result of changes in your brain or body chemistry, genes you’ve inherited, and habits learned over a long time. If you have been diagnosed with OCD, you may find that your condition has worsened in response to COVID-19. 

Public health safeguards can be triggers for those suffering from this disorder. Hand washing and disinfecting things you touch in fear of catching the virus may take over your life, with rituals becoming a welcome distraction or way to feel in control. 

A bigger risk of having OCD during these uncertain times is that it increases risk of suicide. Not many people associate OCD with suicide, but according to one international study, the risk of death by suicide in people with OCD was approximately 10 times higher than in the general population, and the risk of attempted suicide was five times higher.

 

It’s important to work with professionals to draw a line between public health guidelines and compulsion. Managing your coronavirus anxiety is a step in the right direction, but for those seeking professional care, Ketamine Infusion Therapy is proven to be an alternative and innovative treatment option.

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