A quarter of a million people have experienced sudden loss due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands are at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a charity estimates.
More than 12,500 of those who lost loved ones to the virus could develop PTSD, which could cost the economy hundreds of millions of pounds, the Sudden Mourning Service said.
Without early care and social support, the charity fears that people in this group may continue to develop PTSD.
It analyzed data from the UK government on people who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19. The death toll was 50,000 last week.
Based on five people seriously injured in one death on average, that adds up to 221,520 people in England, 15,715 in Scotland, 10,540 in Wales and 4,050 in Northern Ireland as of November 11th.
In times before the pandemic, according to conservative estimates, around 50,000 people will die unexpectedly in one year, the charity said.
This suggests that the number of sudden, unexpected deaths (and those who die from them) from the pandemic may have doubled by the end of 2020.
This would bring the number of these deaths to over 100,000 over the year, meaning the suddenly bereaved would exceed half a million.
Previous research suggests that around 5% of people who suddenly grieve develop PTSD.
The charity estimates that the long-term economic cost of dealing with PTSD to pandemic survivors could be in excess of £ 800 million, based on previous research by the LSE that direct and indirect costs could be as high as £ 64,000 per person .
However, the charity fears that the proportion of those who develop PTSD later on may be higher as the restrictions hinder access to services, support, and meaningful social contact, as well as additional stressors during the pandemic.
Charity says early support can make a difference
Another charity warned that without timely support, the country could face decades of social and mental health problems associated with unresolved grief.
Sudden CEO Mary Williams said, “As we pass the grim milestone of 50,000 people sadly lost their lives to the coronavirus, the sudden grief pandemic is accelerating rapidly.
“It is important that people faced with sudden bereavement receive rapid emotional and practical support so that they can cope, understand the reactions, stay safe, and meet their needs.”
“Early support can dramatically improve a person’s long-term well-being and reduce the economic cost of sudden death to society.”
Suddenly the government is calling for more funding to provide early intervention support and help people deal with unexpected deaths of all kinds during the course of 2021.
End of Life charity Marie Curie said it was “vital” that people get help at the right time, but that hundreds of thousands of people were unable to grieve properly or get help from family, friends and professionals that they normally would.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health and Welfare said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our condolences go out to all those who have lost loved ones. We recognize the impact of this unprecedented time on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
“We are working with NHS and public health experts to assess what help and support people will need in the coming months to maintain their mental health, and we will shortly present our winter mental health and wellbeing plan.
“We would encourage people who may be struggling with mental health due to a death to seek help.”