How Many People Have Lockdowns Killed?

June 1st, 2021 | FT

There are those who think suicide rates are the only indication of rising depression and anxiety rates in our society. Because suicide rates have not jumped as considerably as expected during the ongoing pandemic, we are being told that less harm has been done by the lockdowns than the crazy, right-wing fearmongers were predicting. Unfortunately, that simply is not true. The devastating consequences of the lockdowns have manifested in other ways that are equally tragic and undeniably clear.

The pro-lockdown corporate media has been quick to downplay the harms of lockdowns by touting new suicide statistics across Canada. In British Columbia, suicide rates declined during the worst of the pandemic according to the province's NDP government. Despite worries about mental health, we are told, suicide rates have actually decreased in many parts of Canada. According to the CBC, “many assumed suicides would spike in 2020. So far, the data tells a different story.”

Case closed?

Not so fast.

If suicide was really the only indicator of a mental health crisis, this news would be good news. Sadly, the journalists, pundits, doctors and politicians who have been pushing for lockdowns will look for any data to justify their decisions, even if they know the data is misleading. Such is the case with the connection between lockdowns and a decrease in suicides across most of Canada.

Most mental health practitioners, psychologists and doctors know that mental illness can come in many forms and lead to death in other ways, besides suicide.

Drug Overdoses Are At Historic Highs

In 2020, overdose deaths increased by 74% from 2019 in British Columbia. Last year, more people died from a drug overdose in BC than from murder, car accidents, suicide and—wait for it...

The coronavirus.

In 2020, Covid killed fewer than 1,000 people in BC. Since the pandemic started, it has killed fewer than 2,000 people in BC at the time this article was published. At this moment, drug overdoses have killed more people in BC in one year than Covid has killed in two years. During the first three months of 2021, 481 people died of a drug overdose in BC. If this trend continues, overdoses will have claimed 2,000 lives by year end.

By year end, Covid will have claimed fewer than 1,000 lives in BC.

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A record 904 people lost their lives to drug overdoses in Alberta in 2020, while 1,211 died of Covid. Not as tragic as BC, but on course to surpass 2020 numbers in overdose deaths, Alberta will likely break more records this year. In Saskatchewan, overdoses reached a new record of 233 in 2020, up from 177 the year before. In Manitoba, overdose deaths rose by 87% in 2020 from 2019.

In Toronto, overdose deaths were 90% higher in 2020 than in 2019. The latest report has found that drug overdoses across Ontario have risen 75% since 2019, affecting the most vulnerable portions of our society, including the homeless and those living in poverty. The report from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Networked blamed the increase on the pandemic, but fell short of blaming lockdown policies, instead stating that most of the victims “died alone” in a state of isolation. The report also highlighted the consequences of forcing the homeless into hotel rooms by themselves, rather than allowing them to live in shelters with other members of their community.

The statistics show that mental health has worsened across Canada, despite the decrease in suicides and the media's self-congratulatory “told you so” downplaying of a growing crisis. Acknowledging that lockdowns have harmed more people than they have helped in many provinces, particularly in BC, would be an admission of guilt. Media, politicians and their experts have encouraged more lockdowns and more severe restrictions, without any regard for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Suicide Attempts And Substance Abuse Among Kids Is Up

Because so many children and adults either failed to successfully end their lives, or found other ways to do it that would not be classed as suicide, the pro-lockdown advocates are ignoring the red flags and the warnings being issued by top doctors and institutions. Suicides are down overall, so the lockdowns have not made anything worse, they say.

CHEO and other children's hospitals in Canada are seeing a 100% increase in suicide attempts among youth and children, as well as a dramatic increase in substance abuse.

A media release from CHEO and some top doctors and pediatricians in Canada states, “School closures, the lack of access to sports and recreational programs, and social isolation have resulted in children being one of the hardest hit populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Like other statements and reports, it fails to make the direct link between lockdowns and these surges in numbers, but rather blames “the pandemic” overall. As though the pandemic was solely responsible for school closures, like many other expert reports, the statement from CHEO avoids pointing fingers at the real cause of closures, lockdowns and the forced isolation of our children.

"The pro-lockdown corporate media has been quick to downplay the harms of lockdowns by touting new suicide statistics across Canada."

Government policies, not the pandemic, have harmed the mental health of our children and our society as a whole. This is something many experts, doctors and politicians are afraid to say, knowing that they would be implicating themselves and their colleagues in this growing crisis and the tragic toll it has taken on our children and our most vulnerable.

The Elderly Are Suffering From Depression

A recent study suggests elderly and older adults are feeling the severe effects of loneliness due to the pandemic lockdowns. 24% of adults over the age of 65 report feeling more anxious and depressed since the start of the lockdowns, up significantly from previous years. The elderly among marginalized groups are feeling it even worse, at more than 40%.

At the highest risk for death due to Covid, there is little choice among the elderly. However, it is impossible to ignore the negative impacts of the lockdowns, specifically among a community that suffers from loneliness and abandonment on a regular basis, with or without pandemic restrictions.

Overall, lockdowns have negatively impacted society. To deny the negative and destructive effects of lockdowns on society as a whole would be unscientific, unethical and absurd. As job losses mount and as children face unprecedented levels of social isolation, we will need to begin looking at holding the experts and politicians who are responsible to account.

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