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Friday, Jun 05, 2020

Mental health issues that lead to suicide – another spreading disease

Mental health issues that lead to suicide – another spreading disease

More than half of the population will experience psycho-emotional symptoms associated with the new coronavirus health emergency. 
Those most affected will be those who reside in urban areas, health professionals and members of public order, according to specialists.

The social isolation, the proximity of the virus, the overexposure of the subject in the networks, the time we have been facing the pandemic aggravate the feelings of people, who are faced with a situation that is still unknown, explained Delia Icaza, doctor and coordinator of mental health of the Ministry of Health (Minsa). 

“Uncertainty is one of the feelings that most contributes to anxiety. Not knowing where it came in and who has it ... ", added Icaza.

The fear of dying, the economic and family repercussions can cause anxiety, fear, insomnia, depression, nostalgia, physical and mental exhaustion, frustration, impotence, headache, irritability, thoughts of suicide, addictions, hypochondria, loss of libido and obsessive compulsive traits are some of the symptoms that the population may experience as a result of the incursion of the new coronavirus, writes Carlos F. González, a psychologist, criminologist and university professor in an article published on the website of the University of Panama.

The psychological care of the Minsa, which is attended by a mental health professional, received 281 calls during the first week of May. 62% of the calls come from women, although some inquiries were from men who, due to cultural reasons, did not want to talk about it.

59% of calls are due to pandemic reactions, which is considered normal in the current situation.

Icaza explained that the statistics comply with the literature, which establishes that in case of emergencies and disasters, 1/3 or half of the affected population will experience psycho-emotional reactions. "In Panama we are all affected ...", said the Minsa specialist.

The figures have decreased in relation to the month of April when they reported between 150 and 200 calls a day. Psychological care is open from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, although the possibility of keeping it open 24 hours is being evaluated.

Amid the quarantine the country is experiencing to prevent the spread of the virus, the suicides do not stop. On Monday there were two cases: one of them was a man who threw himself from an apartment on Calle 50. He was a successful 30-year-old pastry chef of Aguadulceño origin. The other person who killed himself was another 47-year-old man, who was found by his daughter and wife at their home in La Alameda, Betania.

Suicides have had a significant increase in the last years in the world, where one occurs every forty seconds. Every year, more than 800,000 people commit suicide, becoming the second cause of death among young people after traffic accidents. "With respect to the Covid-19, it is necessary to intensify the measures that address the issue of suicide because it is probable that the situation could increase the cases of suicide," warned Icaza.

In Panama, young people between 15 and 29 years old and adults between 45 and 60 years old have the highest number of cases of suicide or attempted suicide.

In 2018 the suicide rate in Panama was around 3.5 per 100,000 people, which had come down from 2016 and 2005, when the rates were 4.3 and 6.5 per 100,000 people respectively.
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