New data shows that the suicide rate in Michigan could increase by as much as 32 percent due to the coronavirus lockdown and economic recession that it has caused.
In 2018, 1,548 Michiganders took their life. Only seven states had more suicides that year than Michigan. On a per capita rate, Michigan saw a suicide rate of 15 per 100,000 residents, which was just higher than the national suicide rate.
Suicide has become a public health emergency in this country, with 45,000 Americans taking their lives last year. That number continues to get worse. Michigan saw its suicide rate increase by roughly 33 percent between 1999 and 2016. Now, a study released by Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services warns that Michigan could see the suicide rate increase by that same rate this year alone.
“If you’ve struggled with depression or anxiety before this, those symptoms can be worse during this time. There’s a lot of things that do make you anxious or can bring you down," explained Scott Halstead, the director of outpatient and recovery services at Pine Rest.
The organization arrived at the 32 percent prediction by studying increases in the suicide rate in cities like Hong Kong following previous SARS outbreaks, while also relying on real-time data being provided by area suicide hotlines. For example, since March, the area's 211 hotline has reported received twice as many calls as they did this time last year.
It gets even more disturbing when those predictions are shown alongside COVID-19 fatality projections. At the time of the study's release, Michigan was projected to suffer 3,671 coronavirus deaths. After applying the 32 percent increase, Michigan is projected to suffer at least 2,039 suicides. That comes out to roughly four suicides for every seven coronavirus deaths.
In some Michigan counties, suicides are also expected to surpass COVID-19 deaths. Take Kent County as an example. The Pine Rest study predicts that while that county will experience 34 COVID-19 fatalities, at least 115 residents will take their lives this year...
It is well documented that as the unemployment rate increases, so to does the suicide rate. However, the shock of going from the best economy in American history to Great Depression-level unemployment numbers will undoubtedly contribute to increases in suicides, not only in Michigan but also around the country. The National Suicide Hotline saw a 338% increase in calls from February to March.