U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Democratic whip and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, recently spoke about the dramatic increase in suicides and opioid overdose deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the human suffering of COVID-19 has captured our attention, as it should, two other deadly epidemics in America still rage on: opioids and the mental health crises,” Durbin said. “Even before the virus took its toll, we had been in the midst of the worst drug overdose crisis in our nation’s history, and we’re witnessing skyrocketing rates of suicide, but COVID-19 has deepened these epidemics, which sadly feed on isolation and despair. With the convergence of coronavirus emergencies, we are failing those most vulnerable to addiction and mental health challenges.”
Durbin spoke about a Lake County, Ill., resident who struggled with substance use disorder and committed suicide after being unable to access treatment and about the increase in suicides among African-American residents in Cook County, Ill.
In 2020, 437 Cook County residents committed suicide, and more than 700 died from opioid overdoses between January and June 2020. The opioid death rate is double 2019’s rate.
Durbin also urged support for President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which includes nearly $4 billion in addiction and mental health treatment grants.