Study predicts increase in suicide rates among COVID-19 frontline workers

Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 4:03 PM EDT
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There is going to be a huge increase in suicide rate among Michigan's frontline medical workers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mental health experts in Michigan say there will be an aftershock from the coronavirus crisis that could increase suicide rates by 32% in the state with health care workers and first responders being the most at risk.

"Doing the hard work that our workers are doing with covid positive patients is exhasting and draining," Dr. Evonne Edwards said.

The study from Pine Rest in Grand Rapids came out the same week a leading health care worker in New York took her own life, even after recovering from COVID-19.

"They're dealing with those difficult moral situations...especially if they have to decide how to triage people, who gets testing," said Dr. Edwards.

Due to the added workload, frontline workers can often get lost in stress and begin to worry even more.

"Am I doing enough? Am I going to be protected, is my family going to be protected? When is this going to end," said Michael Tobin, Lansing assistant fire chief.

Tobin said his concern for his first responders is at an all-time high.

"The National Fire Academy put out the stat from last year and more firefighters took their own lives than were killed in the line of duty. Now we've added a whole other level of stress and concern...I'm terrified of what could potentially happen here," Tobin said.

Experts are even more worried because the stay-home order has closed many of the places people can use to blow off steam such as gyms and bars.

"There's a lot of indicators that that might happen if we don't act now, if we don't invest in mental health. You can get support to help you cope with that stress...and do it before it gets bad," Edwards said.

Edwards and Tobin say it's good to stay active, be mindful of yourself and most importantly, check in with your loved ones and support frontline workers as much as possible.

There is help available during the pandemic.

Community Mental Health of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties has set up a special support line. More information on that can be found

Lifeways Community Mental Health, which serves Jackson and Hillsdale counties also has resources. For more information, click

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