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Monday, May 11, 2020

US 'Deaths of Despair' From COVID-19 Could Top 75,000, Experts Warn

Megan Brooks
Originally posted 8 May 20

An additional 75,000 Americans could die by suicide, drugs, or alcohol abuse because of the COVID-19 pandemic, projections from a new national report released today suggest.

The number of "deaths of despair" could be even higher if the country fails to take bold action to address the mental health toll of unemployment, isolation, and uncertainty, according to the report from the Well Being Trust (WBT) and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care.

"If nothing happens and nothing improves ― ie, the worst-case scenario ― we could be looking at an additional 150,000 people who died who didn't have to," Benjamin Miller, PsyD, WBT chief strategy officer, told Medscape Medical News.

"We can prevent these deaths. We know how and have a bevy of evidence-based solutions. We lack the resources to really stand this up in a way that can most positively impact communities," Miller added.

Slow Recovery, Quick Recovery Scenarios

For the analysis, Miller and colleagues combined information on the number of deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drugs from 2018 as a baseline (n = 181,686). They projected levels of unemployment from 2020 to 2029 and then used economic modeling to estimate the additional annual number of deaths.

Across nine different scenarios, the number of additional deaths of despair range from 27,644 (quick recovery, smallest impact of unemployment on suicide, alcohol-, and drug-related deaths) to 154,037 (slow recovery, greatest impact of unemployment on these deaths), with 75,000 being the most likely.

The info is here.