BOISE — Idaho’s death by suicide rate this year is similar to figures from 2019 and less than numbers from 2018 despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Idaho Statesman reported.
As of Aug. 31, 248 people in Idaho have died by suicide. By the same time last year, 240 people in the state had died by suicide. In Aug. 2018, the state reported 280 deaths by suicide.
Idaho had the fifth-highest number of suicides in the country in 2018 with 409 while it was the 38th in population, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The state had 362 deaths by suicide in 2019.
Dr. Christopher Edwards, a St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center psychologist, said anxiety and depression have substantially increased as a result of the pandemic. Edwards said as opposed to this time last year, anxiety has increased about three-fold and depression rates have increased roughly four times.
Edwards also said 25 percent of people are reporting trauma-like symptoms related to the coronavirus.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report from June said roughly 40 percent of American adults are struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse issues during the pandemic.
The state has reported as of Monday 35,532 cases and 419 deaths since the pandemic began.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.