CNN star Jake Tapper has been slammed for spreading "false information" about suicide rates during the Covid pandemic on Twitter.
The criticism of the CNN host came after he shared a "copy" tweet on increasing suicide rates on Thursday, The New York Post first reported.
"Suicide figures are up. Could 2 followers please copy and re-post this tweet? We’re trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening," the tweet said.
"Call 1-800-273-8255 (USA hotline)
"Just two. Any two. Copy, not retweet."
Users – including doctors and health experts – immediately questioned Tapper's tweet, as they disputed the claim on rising rates.
Jeremy Faust, who is an ER doctor, and instructor at Harvard Medical School, said: "Jake, I'm a fan of yours. But I'm wondering where this statement comes from, though."
"We've seen data that suicidal thoughts may be up.
"But every dataset I've seen (including my own work) says actual attempts and completion didn't go up, at least so far."
The doctor shared a link to an op-ed he penned in The Washington Post, stating that suicide rates amid the Covid pandemic "remain unchanged."
In the op-ed, Faust wrote that he and a team of researchers set out to see if suicide rates spiked amid lockdowns in the spring.
"No matter how we looked, we kept finding the same thing," Faust wrote.
"Suicide rates did not budge during the stay-at-home advisory period (March 23 until a phased reopening began in late May) in Massachusetts, which had one of the longest such periods of any state in the nation."
Another user, who according to her profile is a registered nurse, tweeted at Tapper: "What's your source for this statement?
"I haven't come across clear or reliable suicide data in the peer-reviewed literature and/or from government health sources at all yet and have been checking regularly…" she added.
As experts shot down Tapper's claim, he wrote: "I took out that stuff."
A study published on Thursday in the British Medical Journal found that reports found there was no increase in suicide rates in the US (Massachusetts), Australia, England – and even decreased in Japan and Norway.
The CDC noted in a recent study, however, that millions of Americans reported struggling with their mental health amid the pandemic.
"Elevated levels of adverse mental health conditions, substance use, and suicidal ideation were reported by adults in the United States in June 2020," the CDC said.
According to the report, 40percent of adults said they struggled with their mental health or substance abuse.
Three in ten said they suffered symptoms of anxiety or depression, 26percent said they suffered trauma or stressor-related disorder symptoms, and 13percent said they started or increased substance abuse, the report states.
More than one in ten said they "seriously considered suicide," according to the CDC.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the "prevalence of depression symptoms" tripled amid coronavirus.
A similar post to Tapper's went viral in the UK in July – and resurfaced on Thursday, the BBC reported.
Prof Louis Appleby, who spoke with the BBC about the claim, maintained that there is no evidence rates in the UK doubled – and said such a suggestion could be "dangerous."
"It is also dangerous – alarming claims can distress vulnerable people and put them at risk," Appleby said.
The social media post claims: "suicide figures are up 200% since lockdown."
Despite the claim being debunked, Tapper tweeted: "But more importantly the main reason I sent the tweet was to provide a resource for folks who might need help."
Some users still applauded Tapper for sharing resources for those that are struggling with mental health.
If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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