Last Updated on March 27, 2020
A British teenager committed suicide over fears of the coronavirus social isolation, with family saying she was concerned over “her world closing in.”
Emily Owen, 19, died in hospital on Sunday after a suicide attempt on March 18th, which her family say was caused due to the fears of the isolation that the coronavirus social distancing rules would cause.
Days before her suicide attempt, Emily, who had been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, told her family that “more people will die from suicide during this than the virus itself.”
Annabel Owen, Emily’s sister, said in a tribute to her on Facebook that Emily was “very concerned about coronavirus itself but more concerned about the mental health impact of isolation and the fear of the unknown”:
We are all absolutely devastated but also immensely proud of everything she achieved in her life. So many people have messaged us saying how Emily helped them through hard times of their own, and we had no idea how much positive impact she had on those around her. To many people Emily was a really fun, energetic, happy girl, but only a few were aware of the many years of internal battles she had. Few people are aware but four years ago she was diagnosed with high-functioning autism and had a daily battle to fit in and conform to social norms. She didn’t want anyone to know, but now she has gone we want to make people know that autism comes in all shapes and sizes.
Emily’s employers, The Kings Arm Pub in Shouldham in Norfolk, said that the team were “heartbroken that we won’t see her breeze through our doors like a tornado of energy again, or hear her distinctive laugh,” adding that “she was a big part of our team and we will miss her enormously.”
It is believed to be the first suicide in the UK directly linked to the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak, and not the disease itself. On Monday, a 20-year-old nurse committed suicide in a London hospital where she worked and that hosted coronavirus patients, but no direct link has been found.
However, there have been two cases in Italy of nurses killing themselves due to becoming “traumatised” by their experiences working in the frontline against the disease. Last month, an Indian man took his own life after being convinced he had the coronavirus, and decided to kill himself rather than risk infecting his own family.
If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (United States) or if you’re in the United Kingdom, call the Samaritans at 116-123.