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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

RICHARD A. JORGENSEN, MD, FACS
CORONER

DU PAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Public Safety Announcement: Surge in Suicide Deaths Review First 6 Months of 2020.

DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen, M.D. reports data indicating an alarming increase in suicidal deaths in DuPage County. This Public Service Announcement is a  report after an in-depth review of all deaths due to suicidal deaths in the first six (6) months of 2020, during the onset of COVID-19 “shelter at home” compared to the same period in 2019. 

A thorough investigation and review of every suicide case has been undertaken to understand the circumstances and cause of this rise in suicide deaths.  Personal, demographic and toxicological information was collected and reviewed to identify trends on who and how these overdoses occurred in the hope of fostering a better understanding of the problem and identifying potential solutions both on a personal and societal level. 

Suicide Death Data:

 Overall Deaths 1/1/2019-6/30/2019:    -44

 Overall Deaths 1/1/2020-6/30/2020:    -54 (22.7% increase)

 Pre Covid-19 Lockdown (76 days 42% of the time)      = 20 suicides (37% of deaths)

 Post Covid-19 Lockdown (105 days 58% of the time)  =  34 suicides (67% of deaths)

Age

<19          -1

 20-29      -11

 30-39      -6

 40-49      -9

 50-59      -10

 60-69      -9

 70-79      -5

 80+         -3

 Sex:

 Male  -43 (80%)

 Female  -11 (20%)

 Ethnicity:

 (Numbers in parenthesis are DuPage County census data)

 Caucasian (77.9%):   #-44 = 81.5 %

 Black*        (4.6%)      #-3 = 5.5 %

 Hispanic   (13.3%):    # 2- =3.7 %

 Asian         (10.1%)     #-5 = 9.2 %

 In summary, the number of suicidal deaths have increased by 22.7% over the same period in 2019. The majority of this increase was during the “Shelter at Home” COVID-19 period. There were 20 suicides in the Pre-COVID time frame. During the COVID quarantine there were 34 deaths. The age data reveals a peak in the 20s and another in the 50s. However, there were 5 (five) persons in their 70s and 3 (three) in their 80’s. The ethnic background roughly parallels the makeup of DuPage County as cited in the 2010 census report.  Males were approximately 80% of those who died.

 Dr Jorgensen stated “Evaluation of each case reveals a common thread. Almost every case of suicide revealed that the deceased person had a history of mental health issues, depression, personal, financial or marital problems, previous drug dependence or rehabilitation or were divorced, never married or living alone. It is suggested by these findings that the most vulnerable in our society are being affected negatively by the COVID-19 shutdown and response to isolation and lack of treatment availability.

 Coroner Jorgensen concludes : “It appears that an unforeseen collateral consequence of the stresses of “Shelter at Home” which resulted in isolation, lack of community and companionship is taking its toll on the most vulnerable of our society. If you know of people who are at high risk: known drug users those in rehabilitation, persons living alone, having personal, financial or marital difficulty, mental health issues or depression, please reach out (you can still wear masks and social distance) and talk to them and see if they need companionship, support or help. These are difficult times made worse when an individual has mental health, depression or addiction issues. We are all in this together and need to reach out to all of those who are vulnerable in this difficult time. “

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