Up to 150,000 Britons could die from non-coronavirus causes because of the UK’s draconian lockdown, it is feared.
A tentative estimate circulating in Whitehall suggests a six-figure death toll from a long-term lockdown, caused by a spike in suicides and domestic violence.
Official figures show around 9,000 Britons have already died after testing positive for COVID-19.
The pandemic is expected to have a huge knock-on effect on people’s mental health due to financial worries and a disruption to routine.
Evidence of this is starting to emerge in small studies, while the police have started to see ‘early indications’ of a rise in suicide attempts.
Meanwhile, charities have revealed a spike in calls from domestic abuse victims who are forced to stay indoors with their abusers.
Pressure is mounting on the Government to outline exactly how the lockdown will be lifted in order to give hope to the millions struggling.
The ‘social damage’ caused by pausing normal life is beginning to be weighed up by experts in comparison to the coronavirus itself.
Daniel Furniss, 34, from Crookhorn, near Portsmouth, is believed to be the first death by suicide due to coronavirus reported in the UK. His family said loneliness pushed Mr Furniss, who had bipolar, ‘over the edge’
Grandson Alan Ginges, 32, has been accused of murdering his grandmother Betty Dobbin, 82, in the house they share in County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator and political columnist for The Telegraph, spoke of the stark 150,000 figure today. He did not reveal his source.
He said: ‘Work is being done to add it all up and produce a figure for “avoidable deaths” that could, in the long-term, be caused by lockdown.
‘I’m told the early attempts have produced a figure of 150,000, far greater than those expected to die of Covid.
‘This is, of course, a model… But estimates of lockdown victims are being shared among those in government who worry about the social damage now underway: the domestic violence, the depression, even suicides accompanying the mass bankruptcies.’
MAN IN SELF-ISOLATION DIES BY SUICIDE
The family of a man who suffered from bipolar disorder have said he has taken his own life after being unable to cope with self-isolating during the Covid-19 crisis.
Daniel Furniss died last week after struggling with the lockdown at his home in Crookhorn, near Portsmouth.
In the days before his death, the 34-year-old posted on social media: ‘There is not enough guidance for people with mental health issues.’
Now his sister, Chelsea Furniss, 28, is hoping his death will raise awareness of the issues facing those with mental health problems during self-isolation.
She said: ‘Dan had a long history of mental health issues and one of the things he struggled with was being on his own.
‘He lived on his own but would go out every day. Dan had diabetes and was classed as a high-risk person so after lockdown he was unable to go out which we think pushed him over the edge.
‘We were concerned about him being in isolation and stayed in touch but were not able to see him. We tried our best and let him know we were there for him.
‘More could be done to help people who are struggling while self-isolating. Hopefully what’s happened with Dan can raise awareness of these issues.’
Mr Furniss was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager and had been unable to work because of his mental health condition.
The family have set up a Gofundme page which has so far raised more than £4,500 to help pay for his funeral costs.
While the immediate impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will be devastating, Britain is expected to face ‘persistent negative health effects’ the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has previously warned.
In a briefing published yesterday, the think-tank said: ‘A debate has started on whether the adverse health effects of a recession may be greater than the increased morbidity and mortality within the pandemic itself.’
Britain could suffer more than 60,000 coronavirus deaths by August, modelling by researchers at the University of Washington show, the worst-hit nation in Europe.
But the IFS predicts hundreds of thousands of people could develop chronic physical and mental health conditions in the long term, mostly as a result of financial strain.
The 2008 recession was estimated to cause an additional 900,000 chronic health conditions, both physical and mental, IFS notes.
But the economic fall-out of the coronavirus epidemic is expected to be far worse – the most severe since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the head of the International Monetary Fund said today.
The scale of the problem won’t become apparent for many months or even years down the line.
Robert Dingwall, a professor of social sciences at Nottingham Trent University told MailOnline: ‘Within the next few weeks, we should expect to see increasing deterioration in mental health among the people experiencing the most extreme self-isolation, which is why I have cautioned against treating this like self-imprisonment.
‘Many of these people are quite isolated already and vulnerable on that front.
‘It is really important that we do not become so fixated on preventing Covid-19 deaths that we overlook these other deaths.
‘We may need to take some risks with releasing the lockdown to reflect the balance of prevention between these different causes of death.’
It follows warnings from the leading charity SANE that the coronavirus pandemic could trigger a ‘mental health crisis’.
Calls to the charity’s helpline have risen dramatically since the outbreak began, with 80 per cent of people phoning SANEline over the past two week citing worries over COVID-19.
‘Loneliness can be a killer,’ Marjorie Wallace, SANE CEO told ITV News.
‘We’re all concentrating on the physical sides of coronavirus, but actually we’re facing a mental health epidemic.’
WHAT ABOUT THE IMPACT ON PHYSICAL HEALTH?
Robert Dingwall, a professor of social sciences at Nottingham Trent University told MailOnline a ‘deterioration’ in health is expected in the next couple of years due to the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: ‘High levels of unemployment are strongly associated with poor health outcomes at a population level.’
The impact on physical health may become apparent at a slower rate than mental health.
It will ‘be expressed in a continuing rise in obesity resulting from inactivity, limited diet and, in some cases, excess alcohol’, Professor Dingwall said.
‘Obesity is associated with a range of other conditions like Type 2 diabetes, cardiac, circulatory and respiratory problems.
‘There are also worrying indications of people delaying presentation at hospitals for conditions like stroke, where immediate medical treatment can have a big impact on the outcome.’
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warn of the coronavirus pandemic putting ‘the NHS under unprecedented strain and leading to cancelled operations and disruptions to non-coronavirus emergency care’.
This will disproportionately affect older individuals, and those from less affluent backgrounds, both in the short and the medium term, the think-tank warned.
Emergency hospital admissions per head are ten times higher among those in their 90s than among those in their 30s, and 1.7 times higher among those from the most deprived areas than among those from the least deprived.
The NHS has already postponed all non-urgent elective operations for at least the next three months.
George Stoye, an associate director at IFS, said: ‘This will cause immediate distress to those affected and knock on effects on waiting times that could take years to unwind.’
Police chiefs have also warned of rising suicide attempts, but said it’s too early to see any trends.
Simon Kempton from the Police Federation told the Home Affairs Select Committee on Monday: ‘It’s going to be absolutely vital that we keep an eye on that and the very, very early indications of an increase in suicide attempts and suicides, far too early to say that that’s a real trend, but there’s very early indications of that.’
Daniel Furniss, from Crookhorn, near Portsmouth, is believed to have died by suicide due to coronavirus.
In the days before his death in early April, the 34-year-old posted on social media: ‘There is not enough guidance for people with mental health issues.’
Family revealed Mr Furniss, who suffered with bipolar disorder, hadn’t coped well with staying indoors alone, adding it had ‘pushed him over the edge’.
Research shows after the lockdown was announced on March 23, there was a spike in the number of people reporting significant levels of depression and anxiety.
A survey of 2,000 people, by the University of Sheffield, found 39 per cent had ‘significant depression’ and 36 per cent ‘significant anxiety’.
It compares to 16 per cent and 17 per cent respectively for the day before.
Those aged the age of 35, living in a city, living alone or with children, with lower incomes, or with health conditions were struggling more.
Meanwhile calls to domestic abuse help lines have also soared as victims are trapped with abusive partners during the lockdown period.
The charity Refuge, which runs a freephone helpline 24/7, has seen a 25 per cent increase in calls and online requests for help since the lockdown.
At least twelve suspected domestic abuse deaths have been reported across the country since the lockdown started.
Grandson Alan Ginges, 32, has been accused of murdering his grandmother Betty Dobbin, 82, in the house they share in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Nurse and mother-of-three Victoria Woodhall, 31, was stabbed to death outside her home in Middlecliffe, Barnsley, this week. The operating department practitioner’s husband Craig Woodhall, a former soldier, has been arrested.
As 66million Britons stay indoors to limit the spread of the virus, ministers have come under fire for their deafening silence on the lockdown ‘exit strategy’.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputising in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s absence, warned last night that it was still too soon for ministers to begin lifting the strict social distancing rules introduced last month.
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