After calling for a “mental health commander” to join Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, himself, and other high-ranking health officials for the state’s Covid-19 press conferences, Brett Sutton made a hasty exit from the podium when asked how the state planned to address a sharp increase in suicides among young people.
Every suicide is a terrible tragedy, but let’s not be speaking as if we can attribute with absolute certainty what motivated each of those tragic acts,” Andrews said, opining that the rise in deaths may have been caused by many factors other than the Covid-19 lockdowns that have deprived Australians of the chance to work, travel, visit friends and family, and otherwise experience joy in life.
“The alternative is that this goes on for longer and it is harsher, or we suffer hundreds of deaths – literally hundreds of deaths – from coronavirus,” Sutton had reasoned before his swift departure, arguing that not locking down would deliver worse outcomes.
Australia has had one of the toughest Covid-19-prevention regimes in the world, having earlier this month locked down the city of Melbourne for the sixth time. Previous lockdowns have seen public housing residents confined to their apartments, unable even to venture outside, cops patrolling the hallways of high-rises and groceries having to be delivered – sporadically and less than fresh – to the frazzled inhabitants. The heavy-handed restrictions won Andrews the ignominious nickname of ‘Kim Jong-Dan’.
Unlike Sutton, most Australians seemed confident about where to place the blame for the soaring suicide rate among teen girls, linking the increase in deaths with the oppressive lockdowns. Remarking that the country deserved better, social media users demanded the authorities be held to account.