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He Died by Suicide. His Wife Blames 'COVID Psychosis'

Researchers are still investigating possible links between the virus and mental illness
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2021 11:58 AM CST

(Newser) – A Illinois family is speaking out after a husband and father of two took his own life, saying he did so as a result of "COVID psychosis." Ben Price of Morris committed suicide 16 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 in February. The 48-year-old farmer and married father of two spent four days in the hospital with breathing issues, then came home a different person, widow Jennifer Price tells WGN. "He would just pace through the house and repeat things. And it wasn't even in his normal tone of voice," she says. "He just kept repeating, 'I'm sorry, I'm just so scared.' He would stare out the window and just worry about things that weren't even happening." He was prescribed medication meant to calm him, but died by suicide soon after. "Our Ben would never have left us," says Price. But "he was not our Ben."

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Doctors have described rare cases of psychosis after COVID-19. "Indeed, it appears that COVID-19 may have a bidirectional relationship with mental illness, whereby experiencing mental illness increases the risk of developing COVID-19, but also COVID-19 infection increases the risk of subsequent mental illness," reads a review published last month in Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry. It references one study that found 18% of 62,354 patients had a psychiatric diagnosis—with 5.8% representing a first diagnosis—within 90 days of COVID-19 diagnosis. But "the sorts of neurologic and cognitive issues and even emotional and psychiatric issues as part of a Covid infection" are not fully understood, infectious disease expert Emily Landon tells WGN. Until they are, Price wants families to be on guard. (More on neurological symptoms here.)

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