CHICAGO/LONDON, Sept 8 (Reuters)
Scott Taylor never got to move on from COVID-19.
The 56-year-old, who caught the disease in spring 2020, still had not recovered about 18 months later when he killed himself at his home near Dallas, having lost his health, memory and money.
In a final text to a friend, speaking of the plight of millions of sufferers of long COVID, a disabling condition that can last for months and years after the initial infection, Taylor wrote:
“No one cares. No one wants to take the time to listen. I can hardly do laundry without complete exhaustion, pain, fatigue, pain all up and down my spine.
“World spinning dizzily, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. It seems I say stuff and have no idea of what I’m saying.”
Long COVID is a complex medical condition that can be hard to diagnose as it has a range of more than 200 symptoms – some of which can resemble other illnesses – from exhaustion and cognitive impairment to pain, fever and heart palpitations, according to the World Health Organization.
There is no authoritative data on the frequency of suicides among sufferers. Several scientists from organizations including the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Britain’s data-collection agency are beginning to study a potential link following evidence of increased cases of depression and suicidal thoughts among people with long COVID, as well as a growing number of known deaths.
“I’m sure long COVID is associated with suicidal thoughts, with suicide attempts, with suicide plans and the risk of suicide death. We just don’t have epidemiological data,” said Leo Sher, a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Health System in New York who studies mood disorders and suicidal behavior.
Among key questions now being examined by researchers: does the risk of suicide potentially increase among patients because the virus is changing brain biology? …