A friend asked me about the mental cost of lockdowns recently, pointing to a surge in antidepressant drugs being prescribed in Wales. I’m not aware of there being much (any?) information being publicly available for the Isle of Man on the use of such prescriptions.

There are, however, some public data related to suicides in the Isle of Man. It’s important to stress that there are many different motivations for suicide. Some are likely related to mental health, and some are related to physical pain (the latter especially for people over 65 years of age). I’m certainly not making any suggestion that suicides were caused by lockdowns, but merely that there was an obvious correlation.

Some notes on this chart:

  • While this question was asked in the context of the costs of lockdowns, correlation does not prove causation. As I’ve previously said, I think the chief task of social-science for the decade of the 2020s will be to figure out the full costs and benefits of lockdowns. Not just find correlations, but to find causes.
  • There are conflicting reports on the number of suicides for various years. Part of the conflict may be due to different definitions. Primary sources used here are a Tynwald report and media reports. You can see the sources detailed here. If anyone has any better information, please do let me know!
  • The reported surge for 2020 is more than 4 standard deviations from the previous mean, so it is certainly statistically significant (it is not just random noise).
  • An undated but apparently current statement from Public Health IOM confirms a surge in local suicides: “There has been a large increase in suspected suicides in recent months above the baseline of previous years.

If you, or someone you know, is at risk of suicide, please call Samaritans here on the Isle of Man. Their phone number is 116 123 (tap to call; free from any phone) and they have a branch at 5 Victoria Place, Douglas.