Godfrey: So, thinking about the COVID-19 outbreak as a cumulative thing, what could increase the death count long after this pandemic is technically over?
Mutter: In Katrina, suicide rates increased in the weeks and months afterwards because unstable people were very distressed.
The indirect effect often results from confinement, such as we are asked to do now. In crowded settings, like refugee camps and the FEMA trailers that housed so many Katrina survivors, if couples are not getting on well, then that sort of confinement can cause friction, abuse, and even death.
Displacement [when people are moved for safety reasons or to receive better care] is hard on older people with medical issues who need regular doctor visits. They are separated from their normal care providers and will not necessarily remember what the medications are that they need. They get stressed and can fail just from that. And just being displaced and not knowing when return might be possible, if at all, can cause deep depression among the elderly.
Addicts separated from dealers can become suicidal and, if they are able to find the drugs they want after a long time, can overdose.