As might be expected, calls to Utah’s mental health crisis hotlines have seen a marked increase during the COVIS-19 pandemic, according to the Utah Department of Health. However, mental health-related hospitalizations have declined and the suicide rate has remained flat during the same period.
The Department of Health said there was a nearly 14 percent year-over-year increase in calls to the Utah Crisis Hotline in May. One mid-June week showed a 20 percent increase. The line has been receiving about 35 calls per day since the pandemic began.
The department said that, while a small number of suicides have been attributable to the pandemic or its lockdown, most are the result of causes noted prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In April and May, the department said it documented an increase a noticeable increase in nonfatal drug overdoses in Utah, largely from opioids and heroin. “Overdoses involving any drug have since trended downward and remain relatively stable,” the department said in a statement. Suspected overdose deaths have also been about normal, with a slight increase in April.
In its release, the Department of Health said, “This pandemic is associated with uncertainty and unpredictability, social isolation, economic vulnerability and other stressors that are also risk factors for suicide and accidental overdose. Nearly half of adults in the U.S. report worse mental health since the pandemic began.”