The coronavirus pandemic has already killed over 75,000 people. But on CNN Friday, Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer at Well Being Trust, told anchor Wolf Blitzer that it could kill another 75,000 people — without them ever actually having it.
That's because the economic conditions and isolation caused by the pandemic will spur a wave of deaths from increased mental health problems and substance abuse.
"I went through your study," said Blitzer. "It is warning as many as 75,000 Americans could die as a result of this pandemic because of what you call 'deaths of despair.' Explain what you found?"
"That's a conservative number," said Miller. "These are deaths due to alcohol, drugs and suicide. Last recession, we noticed an uptick in those deaths of despair. Like anything, you are surprised by numbers. We found the epidemic before COVID will only be worse after COVID. We call it the epidemic within the pandemic because the numbers could get worse."
"Are there enough mental health places in place to deal with this crisis?" asked Blitzer.
"The answer is no. We have not invested in the mental health industry," said Miller. "If we don't do something now, we could have a much bigger problem on our hand after COVID. Individuals facing despair, individuals looking for mental health treatment. If the resources aren't there, there will not be a system for them to go to."