The coronavirus lockdown could cause 77,000 deaths from suicides and drug overdoses – more than the virus itself, a leading doctor has claimed.
New York physician Dr. Nicole Saphier told DailyMailTV that the drastic rise in unemployment due to the nationwide shutdown has caused a spike in overdose deaths and suicides in some communities which could end up outnumbering even the tens of thousands who have died from COVID-19.
Dr. Saphier pointed to stark warnings from cities across the country showing rocketing overdose death rates, while a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that each 1% increase in unemployment led to a 3.3% spike in drug overdoses and 1% increase in suicides.
‘The economy should be considered a public health emergency,’ Dr. Saphier told DailyMailTV. ‘The indirect consequences of the pandemic may far outweigh those of the direct virulence of the virus.
‘Suicide, drug use, alcoholism, domestic violence have all been shown to increase during periods of strife and increased unemployment. This as depression and anxiety sets in with the uncertainty of the economic future of individuals and the country as a whole.’
New York physician Dr. Nicole Saphier told DailyMailTV that death by suicide or overdose is set to outweigh the thousands who have died from COVID-19
There were 3.2 million new claims for unemployment benefits filed in the week ending May 2, according to the latest Labor Department report
The 38-year-old physician and radiologist is a member of the Center for Disease Control advisory committee on breast cancer in young women, and has railed against the poor health of the nation in a new book released last month titled Make America Healthy Again: How Bad Behavior and Big Government Caused a Trillion-Dollar Crisis.
The US economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April – the steepest plunge since the 1930s Great Depression. The Labor Department’s monthly employment report released on Friday showed the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7 percent last month.
The latest figures do not account for the many people who lost their jobs in April and didn’t look for another one, including millions of workers furloughed during the pandemic.
The unemployment rate is actually 20 percent if those furloughed workers, who are entitled to apply for jobless aid amid the pandemic, are included in the figures.
It also doesn’t include the millions who applied for jobless aid in the final week of April because the government collected data prior to those figures being released.
Dr. Saphier warned that if the unemployment rate continues to rise to 32%, the resulting increase in suicides and overdose deaths could reach 77,000, outweighing the current 76,650 coronavirus-related fatalities.
Although the official current nationwide overdose death toll will only be released by the National Institute of Health in a year’s time, signs of the deadly impact of the shutdown are flaring up across the country.
Minneapolis police say overdose calls rose 8% last month, rising to the highest levels seen in the past 12 years with 1,499 suspected overdoses.
Four counties in New York state say they have also seen an increase in calls. Jacksonville, Florida’s fire department recorded a 20% rise in overdose emergency calls to 436 in March.
Data for opioid-related deaths in York County, Pennsylvania showed a jump of 71% in March to 24 fatalities, and a similar increase in April, though the figures for last month were not yet complete.
And in the first week of April, the Columbus, Ohio, coroner’s office took reports of 12 drug overdose deaths in just 24 hours.
The US unemployment rate has skyrocketed to 14.7 percent in April – the highest rate since the 1930s Great Depression – as more than 20.5 million Americans suffer job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic
At least 33.5 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus began forcing millions of companies to close their doors, bringing the US economy to a near standstill
Other indicators linked to overdoses have also spiked, with the number of prescriptions filled for anti-anxiety drugs jumping 34% from February to March, according to a report by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts.
Dr. Saphier is the author of Make America Healthy Again: How Bad Behavior and Big Government Caused a Trillion-Dollar Crisis
Jamie Favaro, the founder of overdose antidote drug mailing service Next Harm Reduction, which sends naloxone or narcan to first responders, told ABC News that her group’s online reporting system for overdoses recorded a 300% rise in March.
‘The initial shutdown was intelligible as a foreign virus we knew little about warranted such measures,’ Dr. Saphier told DailyMailTV.
‘However, as more information becomes available and the health care system has adapted, it is time to heavily consider the long-term consequences of the potential indirect effects of this virus such as the economic fallout, rise in mental illness and domestic abuse, disruption of childhood education, closures of small businesses and medical practices as well as delayed care for non-COVID19 patients.
‘First responders around the world have been responding to spikes in domestic violence as stay-at-home measures to prevent the spread of COVID19 keep victims and survivors tself-isolating with their abusers.
‘New York State reports domestic violence is up thirty percent in April as compared to the same time last year.’
Dr. Saphier warned that if the unemployment rate continues to rise to 32%, the resulting increase in suicides and overdose deaths could reach 77,000
The NBER study highlighted by Dr. Saphier analyzed drug overdose data from 1999 to 2014, and found a strong link between unemployment and OD fatalities – a phenomenon it dubbed ‘deaths of despair’.
The study found that when unemployment within a county rose by 1%, ‘opioid-involved drug-related deaths’ rose by 3.6%, while deaths due to all drugs rose by 3.3%.
‘This is a wake up call to all Americans to live a healthier life and do what they can individually to be healthier so we as a nation can collectively be more prepared,’ Dr. Saphier said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255.