Suicides in Colorado dropped 40% during first 2 months of coronavirus pandemic — but calls to crisis line spiked
Colorado recorded a 40% decrease in suicides in March and April as social-distancing policies aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus kept residents home, according to provisional death-certificate data from the state health department.
The data helps paint a complex picture of the mental and emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. While suicides are down from 2019 levels, Colorado Crisis Services saw an almost 48% increase calls in March and April compared to last year, with most callers seeking help for anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.
And experts are concerned that the fear and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic and subsequent economic collapse will exacerbate an already existing public health crisis by leading to an increase in suicides and mental health issues nationally in the coming months.
“People’s lives have been disrupted in a severe way,” said Tony Wood, chair of the board at the American Association of Suicidology. “Many people have lost their jobs. There’s no clear way forward for a lot of people.”
“We don’t think that we can possibly support them as a nation,” he added. “But we’re definitely raising a signal for a call to action.”
Suicides have steadily increased in recent years, rising from 1,175 deaths in 2017 to 1,287 deaths in 2019, according to death certificate data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
But so far, suicides are down this year, most notably in March and April, when there were 139 such deaths, compared to the 233 ...
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