What if the next global health crisis is a mental health pandemic? It is here now.
According to Gallup, anger, stress, worry and sadness have been on the rise globally for the past decade — long before the COVID-19 pandemic — and all reached record highs in 2020.
People die from COVID-19 — they also die from depression and anxiety disorders. The U.S. has seen spikes in deaths from suicide and “deaths of despair.”
Deaths of despair — a new designation made prominent by Princeton economists Anne Case and Nobel laureate Sir Angus Deaton in their book of the same name — are suicides and deaths caused by fatal behaviors such as drug overdoses and liver failure from chronic alcohol consumption. They have particularly harmed working-class males in the American heartland and increased dramatically since the mid-1990s, from about 65,000 in 1995 to 158,000 in 2018.
Think of deaths of despair as suicide in slow motion.