A new report from the Wisconsin State Journal examining mental health trends in Dane County, the second most populous county in Wisconsin, shows that many are struggling to cope with the mental toll of social isolation precipitated by the economic lockdowns.
Hannah Flanagan, the Director of Emergency Services at Journey Mental Health Center, said calls to the center’s crisis hotline are up more than 15 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, with many people suffering not from severe mental illness but situational stress. Preliminary data collected by the center show that Dane County passed its 2019 suicide count in early October.
Flanagan said Dane County had experienced 57 suicides as of early October, more than the total of 54 it had experienced the entire calendar year in 2019. She indicated that the excess deaths largely stem from stay-at-home orders.
“When people are lonely, it’s really hard to cope,” Flanagan said. “The specificity about COVID social distancing and isolation that we’ve come across as contributing factors to the suicides are really new to us this year.”
It’s alarming to see a large county eclipse its previous suicide total with nearly three months remaining in the calendar year, but the numbers become even more troubling when you drill into them a little further. The center’s figures show that 15 of these suicides were committed by people under the age of 25. That’s nearly double the total in 2019 (eight)—and we still have nearly three months until the year is over. – READ MORE