Researchers are sounding the alarm over what they say is a looming health crisis of suicides and deaths from drug and alcohol abuse as the novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the economy and normal ways of life. One report, published Friday, claims that Americans could expect some 75,000 such "deaths of despair" stemming from the pandemic between 2020 and 2029, based on current projected unemployment and economic recovery modeling, CBS News reports.
"Deaths of despair are tied to multiple factors, like unemployment, fear and dread, and isolation," said Benjamin Miller, the chief strategy officer for Well Being Trust, the national mental and spiritual health foundation that authored the study. "Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were already an unprecedented number of deaths of despair (almost 182,000 in 2018). We wanted to estimate how this pandemic would change that number moving forward."
The worst case models project as many as 150,000 additional deaths of despair over the next 10 years due to fallout from the pandemic, while the most optimistic models projected an additional 28,000 deaths. Dr. Elie Aoun, the vice chairman of the American Psychiatric Association's Council on Addiction Psychiatry, confirmed to CBS News that the research was alarming but realistic. "Addiction patients are relapsing, and a lot of patients who don't have drug use or alcohol problems are drinking more now, sometimes every day from 4 or 5 p.m., and they don't stop until they sleep," he said.
On Friday, President Trump offered reassurance to the American people, promising that "jobs will all be back, and they'll all be back very soon." Analysts, however, say it could take as much as a decade for the economy to fully recover.