When governments and bureaucrats gleefully seized the opportunity for a naked power-grab enabled by the Wuhan virus, critics argued that not only do such authoritarian responses as lockdowns not work, but that the concomitant toll in other diseases and suicides would be even worse.
The evidence still shows the inefficacy of lockdowns and preliminary evidence shows that, while seasonal influenza all but vanished, the toll from such diseases as cancers is set to spike dramatically.
A newly-released report is showing that the toll of suicide, at least in Victoria, is so far much less than feared.
Victorian women in their 30s and 40s have emerged as being particularly vulnerable to self-harm during the pandemic, with the number of suicides to the end of October for that group exceeding the total for 2019.
As of October 31, 35 women aged between 35 and 44 had committed suicide, compared with 29 for the previous year, a report by Victoria’s Coroners Court notes[…]
Jo Robinson, a suicide prevention researcher with youth mental health organisation Orygen, said women had been cut off from their doctors, family and friends during lockdown, leaving them without support networks.
Yet, despite the focus on an increase in suicides within a single female cohort, suicide remains an overwhelmingly male affliction.
Victoria recorded a total of 580 suicides by the end of October, representing a decrease of 20 compared to the same period last year, with men accounting for three out of four deaths.
In fact, the journalist appears to have misread the figures. The actual total to the end of September is 530, a much smaller decrease. But past monthly figures show that the last quarter of the year is often particularly deadly. One can only hope that the euphoria of the end of “Dictator Dan’s” worst excesses may outweigh the usual seasonal patterns.
The state government is seeking expressions of interest to establish a dedicated women’s mental health service.
Yet men account for three-quarters of all suicide deaths. More importantly, there is a rising criticism that existing mental health services are already too heavily predicated on a “female-centric” model of “talking it out”. Not to mention that counsellors are overwhelmingly female. Male participation in the field has dropped by half since the 1980s.
Aside from the increase in women aged 35-44, another particularly vulnerable group to emerge from the report are young boys. Suicides in males under 18 are set to increase, while they have plunged by nearly 90% in females of the same age group. Given that suicide in that age group are relatively rare, such an increase in boys’ suicides, from normally nearly twice that of females, to more than 13 times as high, ought to be treated with particular alarm.
So far, it seems, Victoria has largely dodged the predicted COVID suicide bullet, for which we should all heave a sigh of thanks.
But a disturbing reversal of that trend for particular groups – early-middle-aged women and especially young boys – is especially alarming.
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