The metaphor most often invoked when discussing the unintended consequences of a particular decision made or the aftermath to an event involves a small body of water – to wit: There are many successive rings of undulating water emanating from the source of the disturbance that results from throwing a rock in a pond. This is otherwise known as “the ripple effect.” If you expand the metaphor by sizing the pond up to an ocean, the rock to a meteor, and the ripples to a tsunami, you begin to get an idea about the scale of a tragedy unfurling in real-time – the deaths from suicide and drug overdose that have been the tragic result of international lockdowns, lost jobs, closed schools, and social isolation in the time of COVID-19.
In a recent interview, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield alerted the public to a deeply disquieting reality:
“We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above the excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”
The old philosophical aphorism runs that if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it – did it make a sound? This same abstruse query could also be made about Redfield’s statements. He expressed them, but the media barely reported them. So did his remarks “make a sound?”
Trading One Epidemic for Another
The reason the media took a pass is that Redfield’s dire warning runs counter to the four-alarm-fire messaging the Fourth Estate visits upon us daily – namely that COVID is a killer of the first order, which justifies land-mining the economy, ending education for children as we know it, and issuing hypocritically applied draconian state edicts on everything from businesses to weddings, funerals, and beaches. To report on an epidemic of suicides and drug overdoses that has directly resulted from over-reaching, anti-science measures like international quarantines just muddies the waters if you’re trying to keep America in fear until the advent of the election – and a vaccine.
And that is precisely what the media is curating its coverage to achieve.
The concern and quiet exasperation of Redfield seem genuine. He appears worried – as many have been – that the COVID cure may be worse than the disease. Based on the spectacularly erroneous Imperial College model promulgated by disgraced British academic Neil Ferguson, which predicted 2.2 million deaths in the USA, our leaders panicked and locked down the whole planet. But there is good science to indicate the shelter in place fiats issued by state leaders made little difference in the spread of a highly virulent virus. As The New England Journal of Medicine recently asserted:
“Quarantines and travel bans are often the first response against new infectious diseases. However, these old tools are usually of limited utility for highly transmissible diseases, and if imposed with too heavy a hand, or in too haphazard a manner, they can be counterproductive. With a virus such as SARS-CoV-2, they cannot provide a sufficient response.”
So, quarantines cannot “provide a sufficient response,” according to the world’s most prestigious medical journal – but their ancillary impacts have been “counterproductive,” even calamitous. Suicides have spiked in the USA, and a report by the Well Being Trust asserts that as many as 150,000 Americans could die from what are termed “deaths of despair,” inclusive of suicide and substance abuse. That is as many deaths as have been counted for COVID-19 – but CDC Director Redfield doesn’t believe those COVID numbers are even accurate.
Redfield offset the leftist narrative that overcounting COVID deaths is a myth when he stated there are “perverse incentives” for hospitals to overcount them. Hospitals receive more funding for patients who die from COVID-19 as opposed to patients who die with COVID-19 – which appears to have significantly inflated the grim, daily death counts we are subject to. This is the reason a cottage industry in meme creation has sprung up with car accident victims, for example, labeled “killed by COVID.”
The Spread of Despair
But the despair felt by Americans, from school children to the elderly, is no joking matter. With teen suicides already spiking in the decade since the advent of the smartphone and social media, suicide hotlines are in crisis mode, and deaths from suicide by young people appears to be entering a state of catastrophe. If you look for them amid the media flogging of COVID and the election we are subject to daily, you will find stories that will rend your heart – and the children in crisis are ever younger.
One of these was 11-year-old Landon Fuller, whose parents believe isolation from his peers engendered suicidal ideation in their son, which directly led to his death. The psychological toll the quarantines of “limited utility” had on this boy’s life caused him to write privately in his journal about going “mad” in lockdown. Then, because he was a good kid and sensitive toward his parents, he bicycled away from his home to a local park to take his own life.
Another tragic story is that of Chandler Cook, who was a 28-year-old recovering addict working at a restaurant and piecing his life back together with the help of parents. Then his workplace closed, and he found himself locked down – a recipe for disaster for someone struggling with addiction. Chandler was trying to keep himself mentally sound, but soon fell prey to isolation and the siren song of opioids. His death was ruled accidental – just one of the sad casualties in the recent 20% surge in drug ODs in his hometown of Jacksonville, FL.
How many more tragedies will occur before we stop trying to extinguish the flame with a blowtorch?
We must start by taking greater care with the invaluable bounty that is America’s youth. Redfield unequivocally states that:
“The greater risk to the nation is actually to keep these schools closed. You know, a lot of kids get their mental health services, over 7 million, in school. A lot of people get food and nutrition in school. Schools are really important in terms of mandatory reporting sexual and child abuse. Obviously, the socialization is important. And obviously, for some kids, I think actually a majority of kids, their learning in a face-to-face school is the most effective method of teaching. Influenza deaths for school-age children over the last five years, they’re anywhere from five to 10 times greater. So I don’t want people to overestimate the risk of serious illness to individuals that are school age.”
If this man – charged with the health of our nation and backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – is sounding the alarm, why is it not being heard by our governors, our unions, our media, or by us? Why, when the risk to children from COVID is virtually zero? When the law of unintended consequences produces tragedy equaling or exceeding the tragedy we’re attempting to avert – a clear-eyed reckoning is critical.
But that assumes a media free of agenda. Nothing, it seems – not even the avoidable deaths of thousands of Americans from suicide and drug overdoses in the age of COVID-19 – will prevent the media from diluting the twin-messaging that Trump must be defeated and vaccines must be given to everyone on earth.
Ripple effect be damned.
Read more from Pennel Bird.