The coronavirus continues to rage on throughout the world, and while we’re beginning to see signs of its decline, its impact continues to be felt. Deaths attributed to coronavirus have exceeded 123,000 globally, with the largest numbers of confirmed active cases here in the United States, tallying in at over 597,000.
But perhaps one of the most alarming things about this virus is its ability to harm far more than those who’ve become sick with it, or those who know someone who’s come down with it. It seems the burden of COVID-19 and quarantining is especially hurting victims of domestic abuse and suicidal thoughts, as well as people on the road to recovery from substance abuse.
The Staggering Rise of Abuse and Suicide during Quarantine
For many of us, being forced to quarantine for weeks on end is more annoying than anything else. Although we face financial strain, loneliness, anxiety, and disappointment in canceled life events, our basic need for safety continues to be met. But this isn’t the case for everyone.
More than 10 million men and women in the United States experience domestic abuse every year, and studies have shown that an average of 683,000 children are neglected or abused. These numbers are increasing under quarantine, leaving victims without a safe place to go.
More than 10 million men and women in the United States experience domestic abuse every year.
People attempting to recover from alcohol and drug addictions are facing difficulties getting their medications, while inpatient programs struggle to give them the attention and help they need due to social distancing practices. And studies clearly show that a sinking economy coupled with skyrocketing unemployment leads to an increase in suicide rates (which had already climbed 35% in the last 20 years alone).
Why Does Quarantine Cause the Rates To Go Up?
The issues of domestic abuse, addiction, and suicide aren’t anything new — and they’re not going to disappear with a vaccine. Domestic abuse, substance addiction, and suicide all pose an enormous, growing threat to our society, and we’ve been able to distract ourselves from their threat with the busyness of everyday life. But our new lives under what feels like hopeless conditions over which we have no control will only heighten the problems we’ve been needing to pay attention to and take seriously for a long time.
Such uncertain and isolating times only emboldens anxiety, loneliness, and obsessive thoughts that won’t quit.
Even for the most emotionally healthy of us, quarantining is difficult. As human beings, we’re meant to have community, freedom, and purpose. We need something to live for, a life to look forward to. So it’s really not surprising that a quarantine, which strips us of such things, leads us to reveal and engage with the very worst parts of ourselves. Such uncertain and isolating times only emboldens anxiety, loneliness, and obsessive thoughts that won’t quit, or drives us to binge drink just to get through another day, or provides abusers with perfect opportunities to take out their anger and worries on those around them, knowing their victims will have nowhere to run.
We’ve all faced hardship during this quarantine, but my heart goes out to those who find themselves locked up with their abuser, or are unable to fill prescriptions, or need help to deal with the suicidal thoughts gnawing away at them every moment of the day. These are problems that have quietly plagued us for far too long, and I hope our awareness of the climbing rates amid the quarantine will encourage us to focus on the bigger picture of this pandemic, now and after this crisis is over.
If you're experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also chat online at thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.