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Why so many Long Covid patients are reporting suicidal thoughts

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Last year, Diana Berrent—the founder of Survivor Corps, a US Long COVID support group—asked the group’s members if they’d ever had thoughts of suicide since developing Long Covid. About 18% of people who responded said they had, a number much higher than the 4% of the general US adult population that has experienced recent suicidal thoughts.

A few weeks ago, Berrent posed the same question to current members of her group. This time, of the nearly 200 people who responded, 45% said they’d contemplated suicide.

While her poll was small and informal, the results point to a serious problem. “People are suffering in a way that I don’t think the general public understands,” Berrent says. “Not only are people mourning the life that they thought they were going to have, they are in excruciating pain with no answers.”

Long Covid, a chronic condition that affects millions of Americans who’ve had COVID-19, often looks nothing like acute COVID-19. Sufferers report more than 200 symptoms affecting nearly every part of the body, including the neurologic, cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. The condition ranges in severity, but many so-called “long-haulers” are unable to work, go to school, or leave their homes with any sort of consistency.

Long COVID can also be incredibly painful, and research has linked chronic physical pain to an increased risk of suicide. Nick Güthe has been trying to spread that message since his wife, Heidi Ferrer, died by suicide in 2021 after living with Long Covid symptoms for about a year. Among her most disruptive symptoms, Güthe says, were foot pain that prevented her from walking comfortably, tremors, and vibrating sensations in her chest that kept her from sleeping.

“My wife didn’t kill herself because she was depressed,” Güthe says. “She killed herself because she was in excruciating physical pain.”

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Source: Time. 13 June 2022

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