In April, experts estimated that “a prolonged shutdown could bring tens of thousands of deaths through spikes in…suicide, heart attack, missed cancer diagnoses, domestic violence deaths, substance abuse, and more.” Although extensive data analysis proving the full extent of damage resulting from these lockdowns may take years, evidence from just the last nine months already paints a gruesome picture.
Less than a month into the lockdown, crisis hotlines across the nation experienced a rapid increase of calls and texts from people seeking help. In March alone, the Federal Disaster Distress Hotline experienced roughly 7,000 calls and 19,000 text messages—an eight-fold increase from February.
The state of Texas launched a new mental health support line in late March to help Texans experiencing anxiety, fear, or stress because of the pandemic. Within one month of the launch, the new support line received nearly 2,000 calls.
If history can teach us anything, it is that disasters can be devastating to an individual’s mental health.
Between fears of getting sick, anxiety over joblessness, and stress induced by isolation, the government’s misguided policies continue to harm many Americans. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2018 to Aug. 2020, suicidal thoughts among young adults increased by 14.8 percent. In late June alone, at least “40 percent of adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse.”
And mental health is not the only health-related area experiencing an increase of danger this year.
Spikes in domestic violence quickly emerged as “shelter-in-place” orders took effect. Almost immediately, shelters and hotlines were swamped with calls, texts, and visits from survivors. SafeHaven of Tarrant County, an organization that operates two shelters and a 24/7 hotline, has received over 50 percent more calls per day.
Domestic violence homicides have also been on the rise, indicating that domestic violence offenses spiked in both frequency and severity. By early October, domestic violence homicides had more than doubled in Tarrant County, Texas. Seattle, Washington hit a combined total of their 2018 and 2019 domestic violence homicides.