March 9, 2021

COVID’s deadly toll on the youth, sharp increase in suicides recorded

The following is an article written by Megan Redshaw and Beth Giuffre for The Defender. It was published last February 3, 2021.

In this article, Redshaw and Giuffre reports on the increase in suicide rate among children in the US and other countries. The authors also say that of those who were experiencing the pandemic’s impact on mental and emotional health, the youngest people were reporting the highest rates of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

In some countries such as England, suicide is already the leading cause of death among young people. The article cited this statement from Ellen Townsend who said, “we need to prioritise them now to prevent further tragedy. Policy makers must do what is right by children and get them back to normal as soon as possible.”

Editor’s Note: In the Philippines, the campaign for mental health has lost its momentum. True, suicide hotlines may still be open, but recent posts on Facebook shows that many of these hotlines are understaffed, and mental health facilities for the youth are unavailable. The fact that mental health has taken a back seat has been driven home by the reality that depression, anxiety, and suicide statistics are inaccessible to the public, whereas COVID statistics can be found everywhere.

In Baguio City, where one of our staff member is located, the latest public data on suicides date August 2020. During this time, the city registered 8 deaths from COVID-19[1]https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/29/expanded-testing-yields-more-covid-19-cases-in-baguio-city/, whereas deaths due to suicide was already at 15[2]https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1868257/Baguio/Local-News/Baguio-logs-suicide-cases. While we cannot say that this pattern is still true today (because there simply is no data available), we have to mention that just recently, in nearby La Trinidad, two school-aged children have taken their lives after experiencing a “painful struggle with [their] school modules and depression, even enhanced by [the] feeling of helplessness and not [being] able to go out from their home because of the restrictions”.[3]https://amiananbalitangayon.com/benguet-capital-sounds-alarm-over-rising-youth-suicides-amid-depression/ If you make your own research, you will probably find similar cases in your area.

This article is a chilling awakening to another hidden impact of COVID-19 restrictions. While our societies have become obsessed with COVID-19, we have forgotten many important aspects of meaningful living. We have forgotten to think of the future. Our children continue to remain hostage to coronavirus restrictions despite being the least affected of the virus. We think that we are keeping them safe, suicide due difficulties due to school closures are killing them. We are unknowingly damning our children to a life of fear and trauma.

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