Loneliness Can Have Deadly Consequences

Posted On: May 4, 2023

Chris Shirley

Loneliness has deadly consequences, according to a new report. U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, says widespread loneliness poses health risks as deadly as smoking a dozen cigarettes daily. In an 81-page report, Dr. Murthy declared widespread loneliness the latest public health epidemic. Murthy estimates about half of U.S. adults experience lonely feelings.

The Surgeon General told The Associated Press, “Millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows, and that’s not right. That’s why I issued this advisory to pull back the curtain on a struggle that too many people are experiencing.”

“We now know that loneliness is a common feeling many people experience. It’s like hunger or thirst. It’s a feeling the body sends us when something we need for survival is missing.”

Dr. Vivek Murthy – U.S. Surgeon General

Further, research shows Americans are now less engaged with houses of worship, community organizations, and even family members. Researchers say The COVID-19 pandemic only worsened the problem. Schools, Stores, and Workplaces all closed and forced millions to isolate at home.

Epidemic of Loneliness

Senior citizens are typically considered more lonely or isolated. Navigate Affordable Housing Partners encourages owners and agents of senior properties to check in with residents more often. Now that mask mandates and COVID-19 cases have dropped, consider hosting more activities on property.


However, the Surgeon General’s report suggests younger people feel the most alone. Research shows young people, ages 15 to 24, reported a 70% drop in time spent with friends during the pandemic. Dr. Murthy also sees a direct correlation between loneliness and social media in this age group. He calls on workplaces, schools, tech companies, parents, and others to make changes to boost connectedness nationwide. He goes on to say we should all put the phones down more because there simply isn’t a substitute for in-person interaction.

Lonely Feelings Can Turn Deadly?

Loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 30%, according to the report. Moreover, the research shows individuals with poor social relationships are at a greater risk of stroke and heart disease. In addition, lonely feelings also increase the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and dementia. The Surgeon General did not provide data on how many have died directly from isolation and loneliness.

Again, Dr. Murthy’s report encourages people to find a sense of community. He advises joining a community group or putting phones down when catching up with friends. He also encourages employers to think carefully about remote work policies, and healthcare system to provide training to doctors to recognize the health risks of isolation and loneliness. Click Here to read a full version of The Surgeon General’s report.



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