STAT News, Morning Rounds: Covid-19 could result in as many as 75,000 ‘deaths of despair’

The negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic could result in as many as 75,000 “deaths of despair,” or those from suicide or alcohol and other substance abuse, according to a new report. Unemployment is a risk factor for suicide and substance abuse, and so researchers at the Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center looked at projected rates of unemployment for 2020-2029 and combined it with the number of deaths of despair from 2018 as a baseline. Depending on how steep the unemployment figures could be, the projection for deaths of despair ranged from around 27,000 if the economy recovered quickly to more than 154,000 if the economic downturn lasted for a long time, with 75,000 deaths being the most likely scenario. To avoid this, policymakers should focus on providing meaningful work to those who are unemployed as a result of Covid-19 — such as by employing them as contact tracers — and should make accessing mental health care easier, the report concludes.
Read the full article here.