Biggest drop in suicide rate in 40 years - 6% in 2020 amid pandemic

Continuing the discussion from Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Thread - 2021 Breaking News:

This is a big deal to me for a couple reasons. One of the reasons is because it was unexpected. Another reason is that Andrew Yang (2020 Presidential candidate) ran on the idea that the rate of suicide has been climbing for 40 years. His idea was that UBI would help the rate of suicide decline. I’m wondering if the stimulus checks and the unemployment increase did have an effect on the suicide rate.

I saw this similar article to the linked article that Maserschmidt noted.

Obviously just speculating here… but I wonder if one of the reasons could be because with groups being locked in together, there’s less opportunity for a suicidal person to feel alone, abandoned, forgotten, overlooked, etc. Instead of being the one person who is left out and miserable while everyone else is happily living their lives, they are locked in with or at least can look around and see that others are miserable, too.

Someone who is determined to kill themselves will do it and find a way, but for people who might do it on a whim or when in a despondent mood, the pandemic has possibly made those opportunities less plentiful and less compelling.

My uncle committed suicide about five years ago (gunshot :cry:), but I think he was worried about deteriorating health and “didn’t want to be a burden.” No note, but that’s what his partner and I have come up with. I don’t think the pandemic would have made any difference to him. But for someone whose act was more spontaneous/opportunistic, I can imagine that a suffering/locked-down world might cause them to look at their lives differently.

Don’t overlook the ‘relief factor’ for a lot of people in not having to go to a workplace and interact with people who irritate them as much.

Just thinking out loud here as well. I agree with you. But then I’m wondering about those people who were locked down by themselves. Wouldn’t they be more prone to kill themselves, perhaps offsetting the people who were locked down with others?

I haven’t seen any demographics of the statistic yet. That’s what I’m hoping to learn more about in this thread.

For sure. I’ve been reading that everywhere online during the pandemic.

I would say possibly yes, with no real basis, just a guess. And my own experience of being totally alone the last year. Not suicidal, but I can understand the despondency of feeling utterly abandoned.

Or, as suggested by @StarvingButStrong they might feel better because they don’t have to see family members.

This information must be wrong because I’ve been assured by numerous talking heads on the television that the pandemic has caused a national mental health crisis. Everybody knows that people are incapable of staying home for the health and safety of themselves and their families without going stark raving mad. I’m sure that thousands and thousands of suicides must have been misclassified as homicides in order to have such a low number.

Maybe the people who reacted like that are cancelled out, or more than cancelled out, by the people who found it a relief not to be having continuously to deal with others who they found it either unpleasant or hard work to be around.

One factor might be a reduction in the feeling of relative deprivation. That’s where you compare yourself to others and feel bad if you perceive others as doing better than you. If everyone is struggling, then there isn’t that differential between you and others so you don’t feel worse off in a relative sense.

I wonder if the suicide numbers are being jumbled up because of the significant increase with overdose deaths.

Just found this.

This phenomenon didn’t just apply to the US. Apparently, it was true in other richer countries in the world from April through July of 2020. Suicides did not increase during those months in other countries as well.

They gave some tentative possible reasons.

Give people some financial buffers, more mental health services, other ways to connect and a shared experience and people kill themselves less. Who’da thunk?

So you think the U.S. did a good job of providing financial buffers and mental health resources?

No, but it’s relative. There were slightly more financial buffers and slightly more emphasis on mental health services. It was a really, really low bar to meet.

But in other wealthy countries your article quote says the suicide rate “was largely unchanged” but the U.S. had the biggest drop in 40 yrs.

I could be wrong but I think there’s a general inverse correlation between suicide and being immersed in a disaster. Suicidal inclinations erupt when one is safe but the safe life feels like a life sentence and you feel like you’re a pathetic failure for not being able to make a better life for yourself or not being sufficiently loved and included by others or for not being able to enjoy what you do have. Direct threats distract you from making that kind of assessment — of course the quality of life sucks, we’re being freaking invaded by a conquering army / the volcano is erupting / the ship is sinking / the plague is wiping us all out, etc! One does not blame one’s self for that or feel like a personal loser because of it.

You guys are all coming up with good, plausible explanations. The pandemic has had surprising effects on society.

I haven’t looked at the numbers, but theoretically, that makes sense. In countries where there’s already social safety nets, the suicide rates might have already been low so there wasn’t much room to go down. In the US, where the suicide rate has been increasing, any change for the better could trigger a bigger drop in the rates.

That’s a theory but I wouldn’t say it makes sense without any numbers.

This is what I came to post. Maybe I should take it to the Pit as it’s political.

I have more to say on this subject but I’ll shove it for now as I’m getting angry and on the verge of a rant.

You’re mad that “talking heads” were concerned that job losses and isolation might increase suicides?

It’s possible, but the overdose rates looks to have some additional causes that don’t apply to suicides.

from your linked article