Mental health experts warn lockdown will trigger spike in suicide

Now 42 mental health experts warn that lockdown will trigger a spike in suicide, self-harm, alcoholism and domestic abuse

  • Open letter said longer the lockdown goes on worse ‘collateral damage’ will be   
  • Consultant psychologist Dr Keri Nixon, expert in trauma helped write the letter 
  • Since first lockdown, ‘psychological health of the UK population has suffered’ 

Leading mental health experts have warned today that this lockdown will trigger spikes in suicide, self-harm, alcoholism and domestic abuse.

In an open letter to the Government, obtained exclusively by the Daily Mail, the 42 signatories said the longer the lockdown lasts, the worse this ‘collateral damage’ will be.

Consultant psychologist Dr Keri Nixon, an expert in trauma and domestic abuse who helped write the letter, last night said: ‘The lockdown is supposed to prevent deaths from Covid.

Leading mental health experts have warned today that this lockdown will trigger spikes in suicide, self-harm, alcoholism and domestic abuse (stock image used)

‘But it’s also certain to cause further deaths, not only from other physical diseases like cancer but from alcoholism, addiction and suicide – which have already been soaring this year.

‘It will also lead to intense loneliness and depression and in older people these are killers, closely linked to poor physical health. 

‘Ironically, this will make them all the more vulnerable to Covid.’

The letter, which will be shared today, is modelled on the Great Barrington Declaration which calls for the replacement of lockdowns with ‘focused protection’ of the vulnerable.

Each of the letter’s claims are backed by peer-reviewed academic studies. 

In an open letter to the Government, the 42 signatories said the longer the lockdown lasts, the worse this ‘collateral damage’ will be (stock image used) 

It said that since the first lockdown, ‘the psychological health of the UK population has suffered greatly, with significant increases in reported stress, anxiety, depression; escalating alcohol consumption and domestic abuse; and increases in suicidal thoughts, especially among young adults.

‘One in six children in England are now likely to meet criteria for a mental health problem, with reported increases in self-harm, and abuse… and a concerning suggestion of increased child suicide.’

It said news coverage has ‘centred on extreme fear and threat’ and when fear is sustained over a long period of time, it can become damaging and lower the body’s immunity. 

Consequences of this fear include increasing phobias and obsessive compulsive disorders. 

It explained: ‘Some children will develop beliefs, such as ‘the world is dangerous, infectious and scary’, which have severely negative psychological outcomes.

The top specialists calling for change  

The 42 signatories to the open letter include some of Britain’s best-known mental health experts and practitioners. Among them are:

  • Emma Kenny, registered psychotherapist, and prolific TV and radio broadcaster
  • Professor Ellen Townsend of Nottingham University, teaches psychology and is an expert in preventing suicide and self-harm
  • Dr Sheetal Gopal, principal counselling psychologist at the Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Professor Laurence Alison, chairman of forensic psychology at Liverpool University
  • Dr Keri Nixon, consultant psychologist, expert in domestic abuse and trauma
  • Dr Sara Kutereba, highly specialist clinical psychologist with the child and adolescent mental health service at Maudsley Hospital, London


‘Social connection and human touch are essential for psychological stability.’ And isolation can lead to loneliness and is a predictor of suicidal thoughts, it said.

Some of the worst affected include new parents and the bereaved, as the letter adds: ‘The suffering caused by restricting the presence of loved ones during births and end of life is unimaginable, with psychological trauma to the individual, their family and staff.’

One of the signatories, psychologist and broadcaster Emma Kenny, revealed that last week she had received a letter from a young woman who had taken her life because of the virus.

She left the letter for a friend to forward it to the This Morning presenter after her death. 

It said: ‘I’d have been dead weeks ago but I saw on my phone the ‘Emma Kenny is live’ notification one evening at 8.30pm as I sat beside train tracks, waiting to step in front of the 8.41pm train. 

‘Instead I listened to you for an hour and went home. Now it is my time.’ She said her depression was caused by everything she had lost because of the virus.

She added: ‘The weight has lay on my chest for months. Suffocating me and every day living with more threats and fear. 

‘I needed it to ease, not get harder. Please keep trying to help ease things for those stronger than me.’

The scientists cited 42 papers in the letter, including a Lancet article which said the incidence of mental illness increased by 60 per cent in the first lockdown. 

And Cambridge and Exeter universities found the number of children with a ‘probable mental disorder’ increased from one in nine to one in six.

The letter said Covid deaths must be considered in a broader context and added: ‘We urgently call for a review of current measures. It is time to reconsider our approach.’

  • For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a branch or go to

I can’t accept the world we’re being offered… 

At 1.30am last Thursday, Sarah’s husband saved her life.

Faced with a looming national lockdown, she tried to take her own life.

Sarah said: ‘I knew we were heading for another lockdown and I didn’t want to live. 

‘My mother-in-law had left behind her medication –strong pain relief tablets.

‘I was sitting on the bathroom floor and starting to shovel them in. There were enough for an overdose. 

‘My partner found me and stopped me. Otherwise, I’d be gone.’

Sarah – who asked us not to publish her real name – is 28 and is mother to four boys aged five to ten. 

She knew how devastating her death would have been but said: ‘The way we’ve handled this virus has ruined my life. 

‘I see no way out and I can’t see the world I wanted for my kids.’

She is not alone as many have experienced mental

illness because of the lockdowns. Their stories were shared by the top experts behind today’s open letter.

Her family live on the Welsh borders and until the pandemic, Sarah said life was ‘busy but sweet’. 

She was studying forensic science at university and had ‘never been mentally ill before’. 

But in the first lockdown, depression and anxiety set in.

She said: ‘I’m normally a strong person but I do need social interaction.’

And to make matters worse, she has asthma and although this didn’t make her scared of the virus, it meant she could not wear a mask. As a result, she didn’t leave the house.

She said: ‘I’ve struggled to get out of bed. My emotions are all over the place and there’s a deep sense of hopelessness I can’t overcome. 

‘I find myself thinking everyone would be better without me because I can’t accept the world we’re being offered.’

‘If my husband wasn’t there to talk me out of my depression, I wouldn’t be here,’ Sarah said. 

‘But I do now want to reach out and tell other people feeling similar things to me that they’re not alone.’

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