BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new report released this week found suicides doubled among Black communities in Maryland during COVID-19’s first peak.

“Among Black Marylanders, specifically, there was a doubling of the number of suicides during the COVID peak, during that lockdown, really March, April, into May,” said Dr. Paul Nestadt, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Dr. Nestadt said a partnership with Maryland’s medical examiner’s allowed them to study these findings.

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“We were interested in whether the pandemic would lead to an increase in suicides,” Dr. Nestadt said.

He said he believes these numbers could reflect the increased impact the virus is having on communities of color.

“Black Marylanders are on the frontlines much more,” Dr. Nestadt said. “They have jobs they can’t easily do from home that risk infection.”

Dr. Nestadt said doctors will interview family members in order to learn more.

“What was going on with your loved one? Was this related to the pandemic or obviously is there other things that could have led to these feelings,” he said.

Doctors said they’re growing more concerned as another wave of COVID-19 sweeps across the country.

“I’m worried to see if this pattern repeats,” Dr. Nestadt said. “If again we see an increase in suicides in vulnerable populations like Black Marylanders.”

If it does, he hopes this time Marylanders are more aware of their resources.

“In Maryland, we have a hotline 211 that you can call to get hooked up with a provider or be taken right to a suicide crisis operator, really we have a great system here,” Dr. Nestadt said.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos