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Suicidal thoughts surging, mental health plummeting during pandemic, CDC study finds

Almost 11% of US adults said they had seriously contemplated suicide within the last 30 days.

Mitchell Willetts, Miami Herald, Aug 13, 2020

America's mental health is in a bad place, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of Americans contemplating suicide is soaring, and many more are showing signs of mental disorders, a CDC survey found. Nearly 41% of the 5,412 people who responded to the late-June CDC survey reported "at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition."

These numbers are three to four times higher than what the CDC was seeing at the same time last year. Mental health help and support systems are "needed urgently," according to the CDC.

Almost 11% of US adults said they had seriously contemplated suicide within the last 30 days - and young adults are apparently feeling the greatest emotional turmoil of any age group, as 25.5% of the 18-to-24 crowd said they had considered suicide.

Numbers were especially high for Blacks (15.1%) and Hispanics (18.6%).

Suicidal ideation was higher still for essential workers, at 21.7%, and unpaid caregivers, who reported a staggering 30.7%.

Substance abuse is on the rise, too. More than 13% of Americans said they started abusing alcohol, drugs or some other substance to cope with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, or that their substance abuse has worsened as a result.

The findings are not surprising to some.

The Well Being Trust, a nationwide mental health organization, predicted the decline of the country's mental health due to isolation, uncertainty, and unemployment caused by COVID-19, McClatchy News reported.

The pandemic so far, and the months or years of it still to come, will plant the seeds for as many as 75,000 "deaths of despair," the Trust estimated.

All the traumas it's caused, be they mental, emotional, financial or all the above, won't end with a vaccine - those troubles will likely outlive the pandemic by years, according to the Trust.

Governments at the federal and local levels can take action to ease despair and save lives, Dr. Benjamin F. Miller, Well Being Trust's chief strategy officer, told CNN in May.

That includes supporting community organizations, providing "meaningful work" for the jobless, making mental health and addiction services more accessible, and more.

"We can change the numbers - the deaths have not happened yet," Miller said.

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