But in an interview with BuzzFeed News, deBoisblanc said his comment about the hospital seeing “a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks” was inaccurate. He added that at the time he didn’t know what the true numbers were. Many of his other comments, which compared the number of deaths from COVID-19 to suicides, “were taken a bit out of context,” he said.
Numbers provided by the hospital and the coroner’s office also show that the “sharp rise” in suicides initially claimed by deBoisblanc, which alarmed political pundits criticizing quarantine orders, were either overblown or outright false. According to the hospital, it has seen five suicide deaths during the county’s shelter-in-place order, compared to two suicide deaths during the same period last year. In general, Contra Costa County sees about 100 suicide deaths per year, and officials said that that’s remained stable so far in 2020.
“If you look at it from a contextual standpoint, I think it’s accurate,” deBoisblanc told BuzzFeed News when asked whether the number of suicide attempts treated at the hospital was actually unprecedented. “If you contextualize in concrete numbers fashion, it’s not accurate.”