As U.S. officials hand down unprecedented orders to keep businesses and everyday life shut down, the head of a California hospital’s trauma operation says his area has seen far more death from quarantine-related suicides than from the coronavirus itself.
“We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” Dr. Mike deBoisblanc of John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, near Oakland, told ABC7 of the apparent mental health crisis arising from official restrictions.
“ … We’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks,” he told the station, although no figures were given to back the claims.
Walnut Creek is in Contra Costa County, which as of May 23 had recorded 1,296 coronavirus cases and 36 deaths from the disease.
DeBoisblanc said the mental health damage indicates “it’s time” to end the shelter-in-place lockdown in the county of more than a million people.
Kacey Hansen — a trauma nurse at the hospital for 33 years and a colleague of deBoisblanc — says the concentration on treating COVID-19 patients has meant they have not able to save as many suicide cases as usual.
“I have never seen so much intentional injury,” she told the station.
John Muir Health told ABC7 that it “encourages” its staff to “participate constructively in these discussions,” while stressing it is “supportive of the Shelter-in-Place order” in Contra Costa County.
“We all share a concern for the health of our community whether that is COVID-19, mental health, intentional violence or other issues,” it told the station.