Idaho death by suicide rate lower than 2018 despite COVID-19

Idaho’s death by suicide rate this year is similar to figures from 2019 and less than numbers from 2018 despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Aug. 31, 248 people in Idaho have died by suicide. By the same time last year, 240 people in the state had died by suicide. In Aug. 2018, the state reported 280 deaths by suicide.

According to the state Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho had the fifth-highest number of suicides in the country in 2018 with 409 while it was the 38th in population. The state had 362 deaths by suicide in 2019.

Dr. Christopher Edwards, a St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center psychologist, said anxiety and depression have substantially increased as a result of the pandemic. Edwards said as opposed to this time last year, anxiety has increased about three-fold and depression rates have increased roughly four times.

Edwards also said 25% of people are reporting trauma-like symptoms related to the coronavirus.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report from June said roughly 40% of American adults are struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse issues during the pandemic.

The state has reported as of Monday 35,532 cases and 419 deaths since the pandemic began. (AP)