PROVO, Utah (AP) — Utah County emergency officials reported a 34% increase in the number of calls for mental health and wellness checks since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The increase in calls to law enforcement authorities and first responders could be attributed to anxiety related to the coronavirus, The Daily Herald reported Wednesday.
Other factors could include stress related to potential unemployment or home isolation, Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.
Utah County law enforcement responded to 62 suicide-related calls from Feb. 1 to May 20. During the same time period in 2019, there were 46 similar calls.
“We expect to have some variation from month-to-month or year-to-year, but that seems like that would be a little unusual to have a 34% increase,” Cannon said.
The three most common categories of mental wellness calls that law enforcement officers receive are suicide attempts, suicide threats and deaths by suicide, Cannon said.
“Without being able to do a scientific study on why there is an increase, it’s not unlikely that at least part of that increase from last year to this year may be due to the ongoing pandemic," Cannon said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.