Exiting Memorial Day weekend, life for many Americans remain suspended in the seemingly perpetual lockdowns and, for some, the light at the end of the tunnel has yet to reveal itself. Los Angeles County will be locked down through July, New York City won’t emerge until likely June, and Democratic states all continue to move the re-opening process at a snail’s pace. But as the lockdowns trudge on supposedly for our safety, our politicians have overlooked even greater damage to our nation from a second pandemic-the surging mental health crisis.
Backed by the “scientists” and the “data”, the Left willfully ignores the fact the COVID-19 pandemic, as with all pandemics, exist beyond mere science. An unfortunate trend emerging in media circles somehow blame President Trump politicizing the virus yet omit how the virus is intrinsically political. Though painted as a negative, politics possesses no inherent expression of good or bad, disallowed by politics’ essential complexity.
As defined as the ultimate human science, the collective action taken by society to combat the virus involves a massive swath of factors, ranging from the economic to the psychological to the, yes, scientific. Therefore, when determining public policy surrounding the lockdowns, we cannot narrow our scope to only the experts of the scientific. Scientists are not economists as economists are not sociologists.
On the right, the economic ramifications of the lockdown take precedence over all other aspects as evidence to end the lockdowns while the left hones in on their technocratic definition of “science” to justify eternal lockdowns. However, when we fail to broaden our field of reference, the more direct factors sweep away the often forgotten but potentially most devastating psychological components of the lockdown. With the decision to lock down comes inadvertent consequences and the tragic spike in suicides, drug overdoses, and incidents of domestic abuse must not be allowed to be neglected in our decisions.
In the town of Walnut Creek, California, the trauma center at John Muir Medical Center has endured “a year’s worth of suicide attempts” in only the last four weeks, reported by Dr. Mike deBoisblanc. “Personally, I think it’s time,” Dr.deBoisblanc explained to ABC7 News. “I think, originally this (shelter-in-place order) was put in place to flatten the curve and make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients. We have the current resources to do that and our other community health is suffering.” Kacey Hansen, a trauma nurse at the hospital for 33 years, said she has “never seen so much intentional injury.” Echoing a national trend, the extended lockdowns only aggravate a terrifying mental health crisis.
One of the nation’s top mental health official, Dr. ELinore McCance-Katz, agreed prolonged national lockdowns could increase suicide rates across the country, as well as drug overdoses and incidents of domestic abuse. Calls to the national mental health hotline rocketed to a 1,000% increase compared to this same period last year. As the lockdowns force more people to stay home, opportunistic domestic violence cases have multiplied across the country. The Chicago Police Department found a 12% boom in domestic-violence-related calls from the start of the year through mid-April, as compared to the same period in 2019.
The pressure causing this bitter wave is twofold. Firstly, economic recessions will naturally result in increased suicides and drug overdoses. According to data provided by the National Beurua of Economic Research and Medical Journal Lancet, every one percent hike in the national unemployment rate will likely produce a 3.3% spike in drug overdose deaths and a .99% spike in suicides. Suffering from an unemployment rate soaring past 20% after record low unemployment rates before the pandemic without any signs of slowing, we could lose 77,000 lives if unemployment reaches 32% from suicides and drug overdoses. That’s over 75% of the total deaths from coronavirus, the very reason behind the lockdowns in the first place.
Secondly, a constant barrage of terrible news by the mainstream media spurns unnecessary despair regarding the virus. Following a political agenda to puff up the severity of the virus, the media’s fear-mongering exaggerates bad news and almost entirely blots out the good news. An article from Business Insider, titled “France recorded 70 new coronavirus cases in schools, a week after it let more than 1 million kids go back to class”, attempted to conflate 70 cases in a group of 1.4 million children as an unmitigated disaster and scolded French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer for claiming cases as “inevitable”. But when models overestimate death totals and revise their predictions, the media stays mute.
For their abhorrent reporting on states, the mainstream media resist acknowledging the overwhelming success of Florida or Texas and chalk it up to pure luck but turns around to praise New York governor Andrew Cuomo and playfully teases his large nose on national news, even though New York City has the highest excess death rate in the world. In a CNN article by Chris Cillizza titled “Guess Which Governor’s Coronavirus Response Is The Least Popular”, he slams Georgia governor Brian Kemp for his supposed mishandling of the virus by re-opening before any other state, despite his state of 10 million people experiencing only 43,730 cases and 1,871 deaths with no significant spike in cases after re-opening.
Painting a narrative of re-opening being dangerous puts people into a suffocating bind. Though unemployment skyrockets and swift re-opening becomes increasingly critical, the media instead promulgates an irresponsibly bloated risk of loosening the lockdowns. The endless stream of doomsday scenarios produce immense amounts of anxiety and combined with the national recession and the general isolation of the lockdowns, the ensuing mental health crisis rivals the coronavirus pandemic itself.
Therefore, the solution to this crisis lines up with the solutions to the economic devastation-we have reached the point to re-open the country. As much as power-hungry politicians deny it, the lockdowns have worn out their purpose. If economic arguments for re-opening aren’t convincing enough, the tragic explosion in suicides, drug overdoses, and domestic abuse should be an ample argument to end the lockdowns. The nation must be allowed to begin healing from this pandemic and we must prioritize mental health on an equal plane as economic recovery.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline. If you are suffering from domestic abuse, do not hesitate to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.