The Utah Department of Health released a report Thursday saying there has been no significant increase in suicides or drug overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health Department also reported no new deaths from the disease.
Thursday’s report by the Utah Department of Health largely debunks information that was spread during 2020 about increased suicide rates during the pandemic.
A viral Tweet from last summer claimed suicide figures were up as much as 200% in the US and UK. However, Thursday’s report shows that Utah’s rates of suicides and drug overdoses in 2020 remained consistent with 2019 numbers.
Reports of ‘consistent mental stress’ by Utah adults also remained relatively unchanged from March through August 2020 compared with the same period of 2019 -- both roughly 13%.
Calls to the state’s Suicide Prevention Crisis Line did increase in 2020, but was similar to growth seen in recent years, according to the report.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn credited the Utah Department of Health and Human Services for identifying the potential for a mental health crisis early in the pandemic and providing the necessary services to address it.
“At the very beginning of this pandemic, so, a year ago, we started planning for addressing the mental health strain that would come with a pandemic, quarantine, social distancing,” said Dunn. “And so, we’ve been working with partners for over a year to focus on this effort, and I think the fact that we haven’t seen an increase in suicides or overdoses is a testament to the hard work that’s been put in by both our health and human services departments.”
She added that although the report is encouraging and statewide cases are dropping, the pandemic is likely months away from actually coming to an end.
“We have to remember, though, that this is a pandemic that will take a toll on us for several more months, so we need to continue emphasizing those kind of prevention measures, to continue that going even as we start seeing less cases,” she said. “We still need to continue physical distancing and those things.”
The health department reported no new COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, the statewide death toll from the disease remains at 1,620.
Statewide, 1,761 new cases were reported with 22 in Summit County and 20 in Wasatch County.
The statewide rolling seven-day average for positive tests dropped to 1,710 per day and the seven-day average for percent of positive laboratory tests is now 18.26%. Both metrics have been steadily declining since early January.
According to the Health Department, 444 Utahns are currently hospitalized with the disease and statewide referral center ICUs are at 89.1% capacity.
The total number of vaccine doses administered in Utah is 267,027 as of Thursday.