The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
The global pandemic that's upended daily life in the United States has resulted in over 16 million new unemployment claims as restaurants, bars, offices, and other non-essential businesses close their doors or cut their staff.
With the economy a crucial talking point in favor of his reelection, President Donald Trump has expressed an eagerness to reopen businesses and end the stay-at-home orders implemented across the nation—even if it would lead to increased death and a resurgence of the outbreak.
Over 17,000 people in the United States have succumbed to the virus and that number continues to grow.
When confronted with that reality at a Friday press briefing, the President made the case for reopening the country by saying that staying at home leads to death also.
"Staying at home leads to death also. It's very traumatic for this country. But staying at home, if you look at numbers, that leads to a different kind of death, perhaps ...so it's a very big decision. It's the biggest decision I will ever make"
The decision Trump refers to isn't actually his decision at all. Stay-at-home orders were implemented by state governors with whom Trump has quarreled on Twitter and whom he said should only rely on the federal government as a backup. Trump has yet to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order, so there isn't one for him to revoke.
People couldn't believe what they were hearing.
It's true that calls to suicide prevention hotlines spiked after stay-at-home orders were implemented. However, preventing deaths from the virus and preventing suicides aren't mutually exclusive choices.
Mental health should undoubtedly be addressed during such a tumultuous time in the nation, and using mental health concerns to justify letting a viral contagion run rampant is an insult to their validity.
It's possible to allocate more resources to mental health facilities in a similar way that we've allocated more resources to hospitals for physical conditions. In fact, lawmakers have already done this in the CARES act. The $2.2 trillion stimulus package allocated over a billion dollars to mental health resources and repealed regulations that made it more difficult to see a mental health practitioner through video conferencing.
The American Psychological Association praised the mental health allocations included in the CARES Act.
If Trump has evidence that suicides will lead to a comparable amount of deaths as the global pandemic, he should state that and address it directly instead of alluding to unspecified numbers without elaboration.
Some thought he was talking about a metaphorical death.
Who even knows anymore?
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/.