You can’t foundationally alter societal function and not expect considerable consequences.
And for most of 2020, change came in a fierce way.
Undoubtedly, many adults loved staying home more.
But kids aren’t meant for isolated idling. A social component to their daily lives is an important part of development.
And suddenly, due to a medical anomaly, that element was taken away.
The effect, as revealed by a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was potentially deadly.
Especially for young girls.
At the start of the lockdown, suicide attempts among teens ages 12-17 began to rise.
And there was plenty of time for further growth: On March 16th, I wrote the article “Trump Releases ’15 Days to Slow the Spread,’ but the Fight May Last Many Months.”
Boy, did the fight last.
Among collateral damage: child and adolescent emotional health.
Per the CDC, during February and March of this year, ER visits due to suspected suicide attempts skyrocketed compared to the same period in 2019.
For teen boys, incidents were up 3.7%.
But the frequency for girls jumped 50.6%.
Hence, as stated by the study:
The findings…suggest more severe distress among young females than has been identified in previous reports during the pandemic, reinforcing the need for increased attention to, and prevention for, this population.
The Miami Herald waxes on why:
The gender differences are consistent with past research that has shown teen girls are more likely to self-report suicide attempts than teen boys, the researchers said, and generally visit emergency departments for such attempts at higher rates.
The pandemic introduced unique stressors that could have put many young people at higher risk of suicide attempts, the CDC said, including physical distancing from friends and family, remote learning, barriers to mental health treatment, increases in substance use, and anxiety about the health and economic status of their loved ones.
I’d suggest a further reason for the rates: the web.
These days, young people live a good portion of their lives on the brutal internet.
There’s no less forgiving, less kind place in modernity than social media sites.
And there’s nothing more threatening to young people’s self-esteem and self-image.
The pandemic didn’t just take away person-to-person interaction; it surely replaced it with activity online.
Concerning suicide in general, it’s long been acknowledged as an effect of America’s COVID clampdown.
For example, see my January 24th coverage of Clark County, Nevada’s epidemic of self-inflicted death.
Nightmare: Nation's 5th Largest District Sends Kids Back to School Following a Pandemic – of Suicides
— RedState (@RedState) January 25, 2021
As observed by the Herald, it wasn’t just suicide attempts that saw an uptick:
Emergency department visits for mental health problems and suspected child abuse also increased in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to the report, which could have contributed to the jump in suspected suicide attempts among teen girls this winter.
More from the CDC:
During 2020, the proportion of mental health–related emergency department (ED) visits among adolescents aged 12–17 years increased 31% compared with that during 2019.
What a terrible time — for everyone to a degree, but particularly for children who’ve had a core of childhood cut out due to a virus whose grip, statistically, they’re largely beyond.
I hope we’ve come out of those darkest days as scarred but smarter.
Kids can’t get back the time they lost, but I hope they don’t lose any more.
And more than that, may no more lives be lost — to the virus, or to a lockdown.
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