As the death toll of COVID-19 in the US hits 170,000 with few signs of slowing, it could be easy to stay focused on the most obvious fallout of the pandemic as U.S. efforts at containment continue to be stymied. But there are other, more subtle consequences to the coronavirus’ American surge, and a major one is our mental and emotional wellbeing. And now, a stunning new study shows that young Americans are taking all of this particularly hard. The CDC reports that one in four young adults have contemplated suicide in the last month because of the pandemic. That’s a quarter of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24, according to a survey of 5,412 respondents.
It’s not just young adults either. 22 percent of essential workers said they’d also considered suicide in the last 30 days, along with 31 percent of self-reported “unpaid caregivers.” Black and Hispanic respondents also reported suicidal ideation at above normal levels.
The situation continues to be bleak throughout the study. Nearly 31 percent of respondents reported feelings of anxiety or depression brought on by the pandemic. A little over 13 percent reported turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with pandemic-related stress.
State and federal data report a slight uptick in drug overdose deaths in 2020, leading to speculation that lockdown, economic uncertainty and pandemic-related stress may be exacerbating the nation’s already dire suicide rate.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text an emotional support counselor with the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.