Amongst middle-aged, working-class people of European descent, the mortality rate has risen since the 1990s. The term “death of despair,” made popular in 2015 by Princeton University’s economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, is representative of the deaths relating, but not limited, to mental illnesses and social stressors pertaining to low self-esteem and feeling hopeless. Despair cannot be calculated and lacks a concrete scientific explanation, but there is no doubt that it is a form of suffering. New York’s Upstate Medical University’s Ronald Pies, a well-known psychiatrist, recognizes that patients’ ways of coping with hopelessness and suicidal tendencies cannot be a measurement of their despair or fixed with “the Bible of psychiatry.” In correspondence to current times, the pandemic is fueling this ongoing concern and the use of substances in means of coping with said concern. Around the start of March of 2020, a survey concluded that 27.8% of the US population experienced depression symptoms, a major increase in comparison to the 8.5% in 2017. Similarly, a survey conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August 2020 showcased how 10% of 5140 participants started or increased drug usage due to the added despair correlating to COVID-19. With despair in a grey area, psychiatrists cannot blame the increase of deaths of despair on the pandemic, only the increase of demoralization, frustration, and grief leading up to death. Still, this phenomenon is costly to society, and the pandemic, undoubtedly, caused a crisis in psychiatry.
Bower, Bruce. 'Deaths of Despair' Are Rising. It's Time to Define Despair. 2 Nov. 2020, www.sciencenews.org/article/deaths-of-despair-depression-mental-health-covid-19-pandemic.