The suicide rate in the United States fell by nearly 6 percent last year, the largest drop in four decades despite lockdowns, deaths and other difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to preliminary government data reviewed by Associated Press.
Fewer than 45,000 suicides were reported last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lowest number of U.S. suicides since 2015.
The wire service notes that death certificates are still coming in, but officials expect the decline to endure.
The number of suicides in the U.S. peaked in 201
A slight decrease in cases was recorded in 2019, which was attributed to increased mental health examination along with other suicide prevention methods.
The reason for the 2020 decline is unclear, but an expert told the AP that it could be attributed to a common phenomenon seen in the early stages of natural disasters and wars.
“There’s a heroic phase in every disaster period where we go together and express lots of support messages that we are in this together,” said Christine Moutier, medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “You saw it, at least in the first months of the pandemic.”
Moutier said the decline could possibly also be attributed to the availability of telecommunications health services.
However, Moutier said she would like to see the demographic breakdown of suicide when reported by the CDC, saying it is possible that suicide did not fall among young people and young adults.
“It is possible that we will see the whole mental health poisoning of this pandemic” at a later date, Moutier told the outlet.
The news comes just days after a study published by the Medical Journal of Lancet Psychiatry showed that one in three survivors of COVID-19 received diagnoses for psychological or neurological conditions six months after their infections.