The COVID pandemic has had a profound effect on our behavioral health and currently, close to 40 percent of Utah adults report they’re experiencing feelings of pandemic-related anxiety or depression. Recent studies have found that 20 percent of patients who recover from COVID-19 are later diagnosed with a mental illness within 90 days.
However, suicide rates are NOT increasing in Utah since the start of the pandemic. Local surveillance is consistent with trends from across the United States and other higher-income countries who are not seeing an uptick in suicides despite the stresses of this time. There is no evidence that suicide rates have differed from what is expected based on data from the same time period in the last two years.
“COVID-19 has revealed how physical and mental health are tightly linked. Utah has made huge strides in preventing suicide in recent years, and now is a critical time to build on those gains by following public health guidance and by connecting people we are concerned about with resources,” said Dr. Morissa Henn, Community Health Director for Intermountain Healthcare.
As in past large-scale public health issues, mental health consequences are likely to be present for longer than the physical health consequences of the pandemic. However, people can mitigate and offset some of the negative impacts and prevent unnecessary suffering by continuing to take measures that protect us against COVID-19 and that support mental and physical health. This includes following public health guidance and expanding access to physical and behavioral healthcare, said Dr. Henn.
For those who are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Anyone with any mental health concerns for any level of distress can call the free Intermountain Healthcare COVID Emotional Health Relief Hotline 833-442-2211, which is available from 10 am to 10 pm, seven days a week.
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