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Suicide Cases During a Pandemic and How to Prevent It

Coronavirus does not only have an effect on physical but also mental health, especially the increasing concern of suicide cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suicide is likely to be something of urgent concern because the disease is spreading rapidly.

Research from Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services estimates a 32% increase in suicides due to job loss, stress related to losing a loved one, and loneliness due to isolation or quarantine.

Therefore, the response to suicide prevention needs to be a concern during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suicide cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic conditions

News of suicides related to the COVID-19 pandemic conditions began to emerge. Until now, in the world, there are at least 5 cases of suicide.

First a nurse in Italy, this 34-year-old woman committed suicide after testing positive for COVID-19. He is afraid of infecting others and suffers severe stress for fear that the virus he carries could endanger the lives of others.

Second, the German State Finance Minister Hasse, Thomas Schaefer. Schaefer ended his own life allegedly fearing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Third, there is a teenager in England who is depressed because of isolation at home and kills himself. 

Fourth, a doctor serving in the emergency department of a hospital in America committed suicide after he recovered from COVID-19. After recovering, the head of the emergency department returned to the hospital and intended to return to work but the hospital refused him.

"He tried to do his job, but his job killed him," said the victim's father who is also a doctor, as reported by The New York Times.

Fifth, a paramedic in an emergency department (IGD) in a hospital in the United States. The man, who has just been in his job for 3 months, allegedly committed suicide because he could not see the COVID-19 patients who died every day.

Meanwhile, an online taxi driver allegedly ended his life because he could not pay the car installments. In general, online taxi and motorcycle taxi drivers are one of the many workers whose income has been disrupted during this pandemic.

Why does the COVID-19 condition carry a risk of suicide

Historically, disease pandemics have been associated with serious psychological consequences. The current condition of the COVID-19 pandemic has indeed demanded many changes in people's living habits.

In most people, this condition makes a lot of tendencies to feel lonely, more depressed, and have no social connections.

A new paper in the journal JAMA Psychiatry speculates that the risk of suicide could increase during a pandemic. This is because people are increasingly grappling with economic challenges, social isolation, decreased access to community and religious support, and other day-to-day disturbances.

Mark Reger, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, notes that social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to an increase in suicides. Prolonged isolation with uncertain situations puts a person in a confinement.

Reger emphasized that one of the risks of suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic is pressure on health workers.

In his journal, Reger wrote that numerous studies documented an increase in the suicide rate among medical professionals.

These medics are now serving at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. Their fear of being infected and the possibility of spreading it to family members and colleagues who are sick looms over them.

In addition, a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), overwhelmed facilities, and work stress is things that have the potential to put pressure on them.

Suicide prevention has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic

While it is difficult to control the direction of the coronavirus pandemic or when physical distancing restrictions are lifted, there are steps that can be taken to protect our emotional well-being during this trial period.

Reger explains that economic stress, social isolation, and health-related risk factors can increase the likelihood of suicide during times like these, but Reger also notes that there are opportunities for prevention.

“There are still ways that can be done to stay connected and maintain relationships. Especially among individuals with high-risk factors for suicide, ”stresses Reger.

Tips for preventing suicides during COVID-19

Here are some prevention ways to anticipate cases of suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • To maintain emotional health and prevent suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic, try to stay connected with friends and family. Get creative about 'getting together' in different ways. Technologies such as Zoom, video calls, or other virtual connections can now rely on well. 
  • Rediscover activities that were previously fun or find new hobbies that are possible in the current limited conditions. 
  • If a loved one is struggling with depression or anxiety during this time, say hello to them and ask if there is anything you can help out with. If the person answers they don't know, try calling them every day to just say hello and ask how they are. This simple method might help him avoid suicidal thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Get help when you are in trouble. Use remote counseling services from mental health professionals.

Even though it is stressful and difficult, we must endure this pandemic with strength. As Reger said this situation can also produce a "togetherness effect," an effect where people support each other and strengthen social relationships because of these shared experiences.

"Remember that we are all involved in this together and we are going to get through it together," said Reger.