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State Health Compare data offer baseline for measuring pandemic’s impact on suicide, drug overdose death ratesJuly 02, 2020:
Even as thousands of Americans continue to die each day from COVID-19, many people are beginning to worry about the pandemic’s effects on other of the country’s ongoing public health crises, such as “deaths of despair” caused by suicides, alcohol abuse, and overdoses from opioids and other drugs. Over the past two decades, the United States has seen alarming rises in death rates from these causes, including a nearly 40 percent increase in suicide deaths between 2000 and 2018, and a roughly 250 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in that same time period.
Some experts have warned that the stress of the pandemic itself—as well as from the historic economic downturn and social isolation caused by efforts to reduce person-to-person virus transmission—could exacerbate these already grim public health situations.
For example, a recent perspective in the research journal JAMA Psychiatry acknowledged that consequences and responses to the pandemic “may increase the risk of suicide.” And a similar article in JAMA Health Forum raised concerns that the pandemic could stall or reverse nascent progress in combatting the opioid crisis by reducing access to interventions, such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and the overdose-reversing medication naloxone, and possibly even cause the opioid crisis to deepen as “millions more may be at increased risk for developing a substance use disorder” due to the trauma of the crisis.
Early evidence also suggests that the coronavirus pandemic may be influencing the deaths of despair crises. For instance, a recent SHADAC COVID-19 Survey found that 15 percent of U.S. adults reported increased alcohol use due to the crisis, mental health crisis hotlines have reported increased volume,,, and a White House drug policy office has found increased drug overdose deaths during early 2020.
The coronavirus crisis is still evolving, but as policymakers, researchers and others seek to understand the potential impacts, SHADAC has made data on state suicide and drug overdose death rates available through our State Health Compare website. Although updated data for 2020 aren’t expected until late 2021, the currently available data through 2018 provide an important baseline for understanding the prevalence and trends of suicide and drug overdose deaths leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC). (2020). Suicide rates on the rise: Examining continuing trends and variation across the nation and in the states from 2000 to 2018. Available from https://www.shadac.org/2020SuicideBriefs
 Slat, S., Thomas, J., & Lagisetty, P. (2020, May 29). Coronavirus disease 2019 and opioid use—A pandemic within and epidemic. JAMA Health Forum. Available from https://jamanetwork-com.ezp3.lib.umn.edu/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2766790?resultClick=1
 State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC). (2020, May 26). 90 percent of U.S. adults report increased stress due to pandemic. Available from https://www.shadac.org/SHADAC_COVID19_Stress_AmeriSpeak-Survey
 Noguchi, Y. (2020, May 4). Flood of calls and texts to crisis hotlines reflects Americans’ rising anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/04/847841791/flood-of-calls-and-texts-to-crisis-hotlines-reflects-americans-rising-anxiety
 Cabanatuan, M. (2020, April 15). Bay Area suicide hotlines see high volume from anxious callers during coronavirus crisis. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Suicide-hotlines-seeing-an-increase-in-calls-for-15200885.php
 Jackson, A. (2020, April 10). A crisis mental-health hotline has seen an 891% spike in calls. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/10/us/disaster-hotline-call-increase-wellness-trnd/index.html
 Ehley, B. (2020, June 29). Pandemic unleashes a spike in overdose deaths. Politico. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/29/pandemic-unleashes-a-spike-in-overdose-deaths-345183?nname=politico-nightly-coronavirus-special-edition&nid=00000170-c000-da87-af78-e185fa700000&nrid=0000014c-2416-d9dd-a5ec-34be2b4a0000&nlid=2670445