Almost one year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the worst consequences may not be directly caused by the virus, but rather by school closures, isolation and lockdown measures that have sent the suicide rate among children in the U.S. and other countries surging.
Since the pandemic began in March of 2020 and schools closed their doors, reports of suicidal thoughts, attempts and cries for help among children have increased significantly across the nation, according to numerous studies and media reports.
As the New York Times reported earlier this month, between March 16 and Dec. 31, 2020, 18 suicides were reported in Clark County, Nevada — more than double what the district experienced the prior year. The Clark County school district also received more than 3,100 alerts via an early warning system set up by the district in July to monitor the mental health episodes of its students.
“When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn’t just the COVID numbers we need to look at anymore,” the Clark County district’s superintendent, Jesus Jara, told the Times.
In the Texas metropolitan area researchers analyzed the results of 12,827 teens who completed a suicide risk screening, and found that 3.5% of those screened reported suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
A national survey of 1,000 currently enrolled high school and college students conducted jointly by two organizations — Chegg.org, a national advocacy, fundraising and student research group, and the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on supporting the emotional and mental health of adolescents — found that 5% of the students reported having made a suicide attempt during the pandemic.