Ontario counts suicide victims as COVID-19 fatalities

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If someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 commits suicide, the Ontario Ministry of Health will record their cause of death as COVID-19.

As of Sunday, December 13, Public Health Ontario counted 140,181 cumulative cases of COVID-19, and 3,949 deaths.

“As a result of how data is recorded by health units into public health information databases, the ministry is not able to accurately separate how many people died directly because of COVID versus those who died with a COVID infection,” Ontario Ministry of Health Senior Communications Advisor Anna Miller said to True North in an email.

“A death that occurs in an active case of COVID-19 is counted as a COVID-19 death.”

This information confirms what the Toronto Public Health Twitter account tweeted back in June 2020: “Individuals who have died with COVID-19, but not as a result of COVID-19 are included in the case counts for COVID-19 deaths in Toronto.”

The approach of counting non-COVID deaths as COVID deaths is being done in the name of “inclusion.”

According to Miller, “COVID-19 cases marked as fatal are included in the public health reporting databases whether or not COVID-19 was determined to be a contributing or underlying cause of death. This is an inclusive approach to reporting on COVID-19 related deaths to ensure that all deaths linked to the disease are captured.”

Some researchers are predicting increases of suicide in Canada as a result of the economic instability, social isolation and job losses brought on by the government-mandated lockdowns. 

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service, which operates a crisis hotline, says between 15–20% of crisis calls they’ve received during the pandemic have mentioned COVID-19.

However, health authorities in Ontario and in Canada seem to have no intention to separate deaths caused by a COVID-19 infection, deaths caused by the consequences of government-mandated lockdowns and deaths unrelated to COVID-19 where the victim was found to have tested positive.

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