Depression and Suicidal Ideation, Another Consequence of the Pandemic

Depression Suicidal Ideation Latinx BeLatina
Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic.

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on everyone’s mental health. Home confinement, distance from family and friends, as well as economic and job instability have put many on the ropes. 

However, as well as in the rate of infection, the Latinx community is leading the way in depression and suicidal ideation in the U.S. due to the pandemic.

A new study conducted by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported the rate of depression and suicidal ideation are even higher than previously studied. 

Between April and May 2020, researchers tracked rates of depression, suicidal ideations, and substance use among different communities. Even amid an unprecedented public health crisis, researchers discovered the rate of mental instability far exceeded those of previous years.

In this study, 29% of adults said they had depressive symptoms, a 6% jump for before the pandemic began. Of those, 8% had suicidal thoughts, which was almost doubled from the last survey. The study found an increase of 5 percentage points for increased substance use, going from 13.3% to 18%.

However, the rate among Latinx is once again troublesome. According to the study, 40.3% of Latinx adults reported having symptoms of depression, while white people only accounted for 25.3%. Suicidal ideation among Latinos rose 22.9%, while white people reported 5.3%. As for substance use, the percentage among Latinos was 36.9%, while the rest of American groups had a significantly lower number.

Although Latinx demographics have different epidemiological particularities and other coping mechanisms in the face of a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hispanic community in the country has had to bear years of systemic racism health care disparities, now more evident than ever. 

The CDC has reported that Latinx people are not twice but four times more likely to be hospitalized for covid, and 2.8 times more likely to die from the virus than, yes, you guessed it, non-Hispanic white people. 

Dr. Annette Nunez, psychotherapist and founder of Not Your Standard Doctor, says, “Culturally Latinx communities place a lot of importance on family and being around family members. Maintaining ‘social distancing’ from family members, especially elders in the family, leads to feelings of loneliness and depression.”

Nunez also notes that Latinx communities have negative perceptions of mental health and may repress those emotions for fear of being criticized. 

“Rather than talking about it, they will often internalize their stress and anxiety,” she explains.

However, despite the fear and taboos, depression and mental illness could become the pandemic-within-the-pandemic, and its consequences are yet to be seen.