Physicians from a Northern California hospital reported an alarming trend on Thursday. Doctors from the John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek told ABC 7 that suicides have now outnumbered COVID-19 deaths during this period of quarantine.
The medical professionals went so far as to tell the outlet that the current stay-at-home orders should be lifted due to the public’s mental health.
“I think, originally, this (the shelter-in-place order) was put in place to flatten the curve and to make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients. We have the current resources to do that, and our other community health is suffering,” Dr. Mike deBoisblanc, the head of trauma at the hospital, told the news station.
However, the hospital soon released a statement to ABC 7 distancing itself from deBoisblanc’s views.
“John Muir Health has been, and continues to be, supportive of the Shelter-in-Place order,” the statement read.“We all share a concern for the health of our community, whether that is COVID-19, mental health, intentional violence or other issues.”
Still, the numbers are staggering. The hospital has reportedly dealt with more suicides during a recent four-week period than they usually do all year.
“It’s unprecedented,” deBoisblanc told ABC 7.
Not only were the number of attempts higher, but the medical team was unable to save as many patients as it had in the past. Trauma nurse Kacey Hansen, 33, had “never seen so much intentional injury.”
The medical team said they were speaking out to bring attention to the dire situation. The professionals hoped that anyone in distress would seek help if needed.
His message may be necessary, as the numbers seem to indicate that many in crisis have not been seeking help. Executive Director Tom Tamura from the local Contra Costa County Crisis Center reported that call volume was only up a bit, “but not dramatically,” which one would assume it would be, given the number of suicides that have occurred.
Seeking help is more crucial now than ever before, as those who are in crisis don’t have their regular avenues of comfort available to them, including counseling services, churches, and other gatherings.
“People have found themselves disconnected from the normal supportive networks that they have, churches and schools and book club,” Tamura told ABC 7.
He noted that many tried to “weather the storm” of their feelings at first, but often their emotions became too overwhelming. The executive director urged anyone in distress to reach out.
“It’s important for all of us to be reaching out to people and making connections,” he concluded.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.