Isolation during COVID-19 lockdowns led to suicides among cruise ship staffers: report

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Overcome by isolation and fear at sea, at least half a dozen cruise ship staffers likely killed themselves during the early stages of COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new report.

Confined to tight quarters for extended periods and largely cut off from the world beyond the decks, cruise ship employees were subjected to especially acute lockdown conditions, Bloomberg found.

While many passengers were eventually able to disembark from their cruise ships, most staffers found it difficult to negotiate repatriation to their native countries as coronavirus fears spiraled.

“For some, that meant being stuck for nearly three weeks in an economy room, one that barely fit a bunk bed, desk, and minifridge, with a porthole window,” according to the report.

Adding to the emotional suffocation, the gigantic vessels morphed into bleak “ghost ships” after the departure of passengers, leaving only locked-down employees behind.

Coronavirus restrictions have spurred thoughts of suicide across the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency, Bloomberg wrote, found that 11 percent of 5,470 poll respondents had “seriously considered suicide” over the course of a month in the spring.

That was up sharply from a similar survey in 2018, when only 4.3 percent of those surveyed said they considered killing themselves.

Suicidal ideations were already more common among those who worked offshore prior to the pandemic, according to the report.

An October 2019 study commissioned by a maritime trade union found that one in five ship-bound workers had at one point considered suicide.

The onset of the coronavirus, Bloomberg found, only intensified that vulnerability.

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