A team of researchers has observed that Google searches by Americans about job loss, financial difficulties, and disaster relief surged sharply in March and April, compared with pre-pandemic times. The researchers say given the strong link between financial difficulties and suicide, this could mean a high suicide rate among Americans in the road ahead.
The pandemic has caused untold hardship in many Americans, including job losses, death of loved ones, children, or parents, social isolation and loneliness, and financial stress. Several studies reveal that the mental health impact of the pandemic has been remarkable. Although previous studies suggest that suicide rates drop immediately after national disasters, the researchers say it may increase months later.
The researchers used an algorithm to analyze Google searchers between 3 March 2019, to 18 April 2020, and found that the proportion of queries about depression and panic attacks was higher than the pre-pandemic period. The researchers hope this data can help governments make policy changes and create interventions to mitigate the mental health impact of the pandemic.