COVID-19 Justice

Study: Suicide worse among Black people during pandemic

New research shows that suicides didn't increase overall during the first months of the pandemic, but they did among Black people.

The COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. has led to a range of unfortunate side effects. Domestic violence increased. Poverty increased. Jobless rates definitely increased.

One thing that didn’t increase was suicide rates. A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine showed that despite early warnings from mental health professionals, incidences of suicide during the first few months of the pandemic actually decreased compared to previous years.

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But that statistic didn’t hold true for all people equally. Though the overall suicide rate decreased, suicide among Black people did not.

The study looked exclusively at the experience of Black people in Maryland, where Johns Hopkins is based. But its findings could be extrapolated to other areas of the country.

“Looking at suicide trends by race emphasizes the economic divide we’re seeing in America and unfortunately, that divide also is a racial one,” said Paul Nestadt, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

While some people were able to shift to work from home, others were forced to continue to work in stressful and increasingly risky environments – especially in the service industry. Such jobs overwhelmingly belong to racial minorities including Black people.

Additionally, Black people have been disproportionately unable to access federal and state assistance money meant to forestall economic ruin.

“I think we’re all in this COVID-19 storm together, but not everyone is having the same experience,” said Nestadt. “Folks who are in places of economic privilege have been able to continue working more or less remotely, to take time off for themselves, reconnect with family, start a new hobby and so on, but it’s a very different story for people working in service industry jobs.”

You can read the full story on SciTechDaily.

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