Michigan suicide risks rise at this unstable time, experts warn

May 06, 2020, 1:27 PM

Because of indefinite danger from a deadly lung virus and its impact on personal income, some people -- maybe many -- also face potential mental health jeopardy. 

"The mix of a formidable pandemic and wholesale financial disruption to the state economy may well lead to a rise in serious mental health issues," says a Bridge Magazine overview.

"This is a perfect storm, unfortunately, for suicide,” said Kevin Fischer, executive director of the Lansing-based Michigan chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit advocacy group. ...

A recent study by a large Kent County mental health provider forecasts a 32-percent rise in Michigan suicides this year due to Covid-19.

The report by Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services identifies everything from widespread job loss and social isolation to spikes in gun and alcohol sales as known factors linked to higher suicide rates. It warns that front-line health care workers are at greater peril.

In its 29-page report last week, the Grand Rapids mental health orgamnization projects 2,039 suicides in Michigan this year, including an estimnate of nearly 500 additional cases related to Covid. The state recorded 1,548 suicides in 2018, the freshest statistics available.

"Many of the conditions that are known to increase risk for suicide are now in place in Michigan."

Here's how the report's executive summary begins:

The Covid-19 crisis will have a propfound impact on the mental health of Michiganders. Due to the emergence of the disease and its impact on our lives and economy, many of the conditions that are known to increase risk for suicide are now in place in Michigan.

Research of previous epidemics, including an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Asia in 2003, gives us evidence-based warning signs about what could happen in Michigan. ...

We must urgently address shortages in the mental health workforce by quickly retraining those whose jobs have been eliminated to work in entry-level positions in the mental health field. We must also ptrepare our existing behavioral health workforce for caring for a surge of trauma-trelated needs, and im evidence-based suicide prevention interventions.

Ted Roelofs of Bridge adds a critical reality check on this type of projecting:

It’s important to note that what experts may forecast is not inevitable, and that what drives people to take their own lives is often based on a host of variables -- including biological, psychological and other factors that may, or may not, be related to issues surrounding the coronavirus.


(Photo illustration: Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services)

Read more:  Bridge Magazine

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Throw back to this beautiful shot of of winter filled Downtown Detroit on Woodward Ave with the QLine. Hopefully soon we can enjoy mass transit in the city once again after this pandemic.

By: Michael Lucido