The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on the economy and the physical health of people around the world. But the mental impacts of the virus are only just coming to light, and it is too early to predict the amount of damage it can inflict.
The most apparent indication of the effect the COVID-19 crisis has on the nation's suicide rate will be observed moving forward with the pandemic.
This is despite the notion by President Donald Trump that the effects are immediate when he claimed that lockdown conditions cause deaths. The president said, "Just look at what's happening with drug addiction, look at what's happening with suicides," in a press briefing in the White House on Monday.
The matter of fact is that the suicide rate won't signify if there is a spike in cases or not for several months. Every single case must be investigated thoroughly to determine its cause and if it is related to the coronavirus in any significant way, as reported by the New York Times.
Coronavirus and its impacts on mental health
The role of the coronavirus on these rates will give experts information on how extended crisis and repeating bouts of anxiety affects people's mental fortitude.
"It's a natural experiment, in a way," said psychology professor from Harvard, Matthew Nock. "There's not only an increase in anxiety, but the more important piece is social isolation," while adding, "We've never had anything like this, and we know social isolation is related to suicide."
The most apparent evidence of an increase in suicide rates as a result of the virus will likely be seen among those who have experience in battling self-destructive tendencies. These individuals live each day, keeping themselves afloat all the while looking out for the world's cruelties, always with an exit plan in mind.
"That's how I am," said Josh, a 35-year-old college instructor in North Carolina. He has previously contemplated the thought of ending his life by his own hands. "I see all the bad, the suffering, and I have a tendency to crawl into a hole. Now, with this COVID threat, we're being told to isolate and stay away from others. It's like, 'Oh, I was right all along, and the world was crazy.'"
Josh also added, "I haven't backslid, I haven't moved. But longer-term, I don't know." He has requested to keep his privacy by having his last name omitted.
According to BBC, widespread "moment-to-moment" monitoring of an individual's mental health is necessary to enable the designing of tools and support that can quickly be manufactured to aid those affected by the pandemics' mental impacts.
"Increased social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress, and an economic downturn are a perfect storm to harm people's mental health and wellbeing," said Professor Rory O'Connor from the University of Glasgow.
A way to fight
Ignorance of the issue is a risk that could increase the number of cases of anxiety and depression while also letting people turn to alcohol and other vices.
A New York Psychiatrist, Dr. Makeda Jones, said she recently received a call from a colleague saying that her daughter tried to kill herself by hanging. "For some people who have not learned the skills to cope, this pandemic makes them feel more vulnerable and out of control," she said. "And those two things will make some want to seize back control and say, 'I don't want to die of this disease, I can do it on my own term.'"
Time will be the main factor in learning how to help these individuals. Still, with current situations causing concerns, many will have to struggle with living with the inner darkness while seeing everyone else in the world go through the same thing in reality.
"It's almost like you're in the eye of the hurricane, that's the way it feels," said Josh. He also said he has sat down with therapists throughout his life, telling them the world is on fire and wondering if anything he has ever done has any meaning.
And now that the world is metaphorically on fire, with people panicking and suffering, he turns and tries to look at a silver lining, all the while contemplating what good he can provide to others.