As a brief follow-up to my post yesterday attempting to add perspective to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to urge a slightly different sentiment today as it would pertain to other health concerns.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 48,000 Americans died by suicide in 2018. Over 24,000 people under the age of 65 died of complications related to diabetes. Over 45,000 between the ages of 25 and 55 died of heart disease.
Standing by my assertion that the current restrictions on our lives are necessary in order to prevent Coronavirus from causing a public health catastrophe, I would submit that the annual total number of deaths from the causes cited above–over 115,000–represents a catastrophe in its own right. This might warrant fear and media attention on a scale at least as great as what we’ve seen over the past two weeks.
In the name of slowing the spread of COVID-19, our nation and others are making wise and worthy economic sacrifices, the pain of which we will feel keenly for years and which will affect millions of lives to a significant degree.
We may never know how many lives we will save due to our current effort. But as its restrictions offer us time to reflect, perhaps we would do well to consider the human cost of over 100,000 lives per year, largely the result of misaligned, disharmonious patterns of life that are just as pervasive and deadly as any pathogen. We might also ponder the elements in our society who become rich while our humanity and our economy bear the costs of unnecessary loss.
Interestingly, we might discover that we can feasibly minimize the despair that leads thousands of people to take their own lives; we can diminish the internal emptiness that make so many of us indulge ourselves toward slow deaths over decades. The solutions might seem at first like more sacrifices, but truly, they would be investments–with incalculable returns.