In late March, during a Fox News town hall, President Trump warned that isolating citizens by forcing them into quarantine over the fear of spreading COVID19, would cause “tremendous death” and “suicides by the thousands.”
“You’re going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression,” Trump said. “You’re going to lose people. You’re going to have suicides by the thousands.”
Bay doctors in California, with some of the harshest restrictions in the United States, are now warning that they’re seeing more suicide deaths than deaths related to the Wuhan coronavirus.
According to ABC7 News – Doctors at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek say they have seen more deaths by suicide during this quarantine period than deaths from the COVID-19 virus.
The head of the trauma in the department believes mental health is suffering so much, it is time to end the shelter-in-place order.
“Personally I think it’s time,” said Dr. Mike deBoisblanc. “I think, originally, this (the 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.”
The numbers are unprecedented, he said.
“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.”
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.”
The trauma team is speaking out because they want the community to be aware, for people to reach out and support each other and for those who are suffering to know they can get help.
“Generally speaking the vast majority of people say they feel better after they call and get the resources they need,” said Executive Director Tom Tamura. “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.”
“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.”
He says it’s important for all of us to be reaching out to people and making connections.
Hansen says in-person meetings are even OK if it will help mental health.
“Six feet away, wear a mask, wash your hands going in, don’t touch, you can see people socially distancing safely,” she said.
“They intend to die,” Hansen said. “Sometimes, people will make what we call a ‘gesture’. It’s a cry for help.We’re just seeing something a little different than that right now. It’s upsetting.”
Hansen and deBoisblanc say they are seeing mostly young adults die by suicide.They are worried about the stress that isolation and job loss can bring as this quarantine continues.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-TALK. Or if you can’t remember that number, 211 can get you to the resource you need.