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Real Stories from Shelter-in-Place

Mental Health:

Received in an email to me (Karen Gough) dated May 12, 2020:

I moved to LA recently and don’t have much of a support network here. When SF went into lockdown, I became terrified that the government would ban domestic air travel and wanted to visit my “best friend” on the east coast as soon as possible. I was having panic attacks daily and desperately needed to not be alone. She waffled about it for awhile and then sent me this text (not included here). My normal avenues for making new friends were and remain shut down for the foreseeable future, due to official social distancing mandates and unofficial quarantine shaming. I tried to kill myself three times in one month out of social isolation and despair.
Anonymous, LA County

In a SJ Mercury News article dated April 19, 2020, David Mineta, CEO of  Momentum for Mental Health in San Jose, was asked: What do we need to do to solve these problems and make sure mental health facilities can meet their patients’ needs?

David Mineta answered: “I think the first step is for all people just to consider that the physical effects from this pandemic are going to be at a certain level, but the psychological effects — it affects everyone. . . It crosses all age boundaries, it crosses all ethnicities, it crosses all income levels. So number-one, I just want people to stop and think about that.”

From a KPIX San Francisco article dated April 15, 2020:

Van Hedwall, LMFT, with San Francisco’s Suicide Prevention, says “high-risk calls, or those that may need emergency services sent to them, are at an all-time high, up almost 30% in just the last week and a half.”

Food Lines:

From a SJ Mercury News article dated April 20, 2020:

“I’ve never seen anything like this, wherein a single moment so many people find themselves in need of help,” said Leslie Bacho, CEO of Second Harvest. “Not only are we in a terrible health crisis but we’re in a very disastrous economic crisis, and it has launched a lot of people that may have been living paycheck to paycheck into a very scary place.”

Morgane Dussault, Donor Relations Director of the Salvation Army Silicon Valley, reported that between March 18, 2020 and April 31, 2020 the number of families and individuals receiving food had gone up 500%.

Lost Jobs and Lost Business:

Reprinted with permission from a facebook contact on May 16, 2020:

“My good friend just lost his restaurant. He is the kindest, hardest-working person you could ever meet, and his restaurant was his life’s blood. He does not want to take on more debt, nor ask his friends for a gofundme to, in his words, “save the unsaveable.” He also expressed concern that if he had been able to re-open, he’d have to deal with “the COVID cops.” He is, understandably, despondent. And this is a person who’s faced robberies and other hardships with a positive attitude and hope for the future. I am deeply concerned for him.”

On May 1, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom said nearly 4 million California workers had filed for unemployment in California over the last seven weeks.

As of April 23, 2020, nationwide 26 million people have lost work due to Covid-19 and Shelter-in-Place rules.

What You Can Do to Help:

1. Write your county public health officials, your county supervisors, and your state governor. Let them know how you feel about the current pace of shelter-in-place orders.

2. Reach out to people you suspect might be depressed. Listen to them and try to get them help if they can’t do it themselves.

3. Donate to food banks and organizations like the Salvation Army and Second Harvest Food Bank

4. If you really feel strongly, you can dare to protest (I will be attending my second one on May 23rd).


National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1800-273-8255

Contact Governor Gavin Newsom

Santa Clara County 

Dr. Sara Cody, Public Health Officer and Director, Public Health Department of Santa Clara County. Email her assistant at

Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor, District Five:

Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley

Salvation Army Silicon Valley

Protest at the Sacramento Capitol, Saturday, May 23rd, Noon






  1. Anon Anon

    I am the person who wrote Karen about wanting to kill myself due to lockdown. Just wanted to clarify that the text my “friend” sent me was an announcement that she was permanently cutting off all contact with me (phone/email/text), because she thought being my friend would “condone or enable” my “recklessly” choosing to see other people in person. I am not suicidal anymore, but that is due to the companionship I found in the reopen movement as well as some wonderful new neighbors who are not afraid to get together and hang out. As humans we are not meant to be alone.

    • KarenGough KarenGough

      I agree and I am so thankful you are getting better.

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