Long Covid and suicides: Scientists warn of an impending global crisis

    (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

    Scott Taylor he never recovered from Covid -19. The 56-year-old, who contracted the virus in the spring of 2020, had not yet recovered approximately 18 months laterwhen he committed suicide at his home near Dallas, having lost his health, his memory, and his money.

    “No one cares. No one wants to take the time to listen,” Taylor wrote in his final message to a friend, expressing the despair of millions of long-term Covid sufferers, a serious condition that can lasting months and years after the initial infection.

    “I find it hard to load a washing machine without feeling completely exhausted, tired and in pain all over my spine. I feel dizzy, nauseous, have diarrhea and a tendency to vomit. I’m saying things and I have no idea what I’m saying,” Taylor added.

    THE long covid is a complex syndrome that is often difficult to diagnose as it has been linked to over 200 symptoms — some of which can look like other illnesses — from exhaustion and cognitive impairment to pain, fever and sudden heart attacks, according to the World Health Organization.

    There is still no official information about the frequency of suicides among sufferers. Several scientists from organizations such as the US National Institutes of Health and the UK National Statistics Office are studying the possible link after evidence of increased incidences of depression and suicidal thoughts among individuals with long Covid, as well as a growing death toll.

    “I am certain that long Covid is associated with suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and risk of self-inflicted death. We just don’t have epidemiological data,” Leo Sher, a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Health System in New York who studies mood disorders and suicidal behavior, told Reuters.

    Could the risk of suicide increase among patients because the virus is changing their brain biology? Or does the loss of their ability to function as they did before the disease push them over the edge, as can happen with other long-term conditions? These are some of the key questions the researchers will try to answer.

    Sher stated that physical pain is generally a very good thing suicide prognostic indexas well as inflammation in the brain, which several studies have linked to long Covid.

    “We should take it seriously,” he added.

    An analysis by Seattle-based health data company Truveta for the Reuters news agency showed that long-term Covid patients had nearly double the chances to first receive a prescription for antidepressants within 90 days of initial diagnosis, compared to people diagnosed with simple Covid.

    The analysis was based on data from 20 major hospitals of the US, including more than 1.3 million adults who were diagnosed with coronavirus and 19,000 who were diagnosed with prolonged Covid between May 2020 – July 2022.

    “We don’t know the extent of the impact”

    While many long-term Covid patients recover over time, approx 15% still showing symptoms after 12 monthsaccording to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

    The effects of prolonged Covid potentially linked to an increased risk of mental illness and suicide are severe – in America alone, the condition affects up to 23 million people, the US Government Accountability Office estimated in March.

    About 4.5 million people lost their jobs, percentage corresponding to 2.4% of the U.S. workforce, employment expert Katie Bach of the Brookings Institution told Congress in July.

    According to the IHME, almost 150 million people worldwide it is estimated that they manifested long Covid during the first two years of the pandemic.

    A growing number of long-term Covid patients say they are running out of hope and money, reports Reuters, which spoke to several dozen patients and their relatives.

    For Taylor, who lost his job in the summer of 2020, the final blow came when his insurance coverage expired and his application for Social Security benefits was denied, his family said.

    Heidi Ferrer, a 50-year-old TV show writer originally from Kansas, he committed suicide in May 2021 to relieve the tremors and excruciating pain that prevented her from walking or sleeping after contracting the coronavirus more than a year earlier, her husband Nick Gute said. Gute also reported that until last winter he had not heard of any other suicides among long-term Covid patients.

    “Now they appear on a weekly basis,” he emphasized.

    The Survivor Corpsan advocacy group for long-term Covid patients polled its members in May and found that the 44% of the nearly 200 respondents had at one point considered the possibility of suicide.

    Lauren Nicholls, Long Covid Support Group Board Member Body Politicstated that he knew of more than 50 patient suicides, although Reuters was unable to independently confirm the cases. Nichols herself, an employee of the Department of Transportation in Boston, said that she has thought about suicide several times because of the long Covid, from which she has been suffering for more than two years.

    Many patients with long Covid have turned to Exit International to mediate their assisted suicide in Switzerland, where euthanasia is legal, the organization’s director Fiona Stewart, who now receives about one request a week, told Reuters.

    The US National Institutes of Health is monitoring the condition’s effects on mental health, as part of the study RECOVER amounting to 470 million dollars. The first results on anxiety and depression rates are expected in September, but information on suicides will take longer, said lead researcher Dr. Stuart Katz.



    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here