Child Suicides Rising During Lockdown

WEDNESDAY, February 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Among the many dangers that the coronavirus pandemic has brought, parents really should be on the lookout for one in particular: an increased risk of suicide among vulnerable adolescents.

“We have seen an upsurge in very bad suicide attempts,” and the pandemic is probably behind that increase, said Dr. Taranjeet Jolly, an adult and pediatric psychiatrist at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at Penn State Health. .

Social isolation during the pandemic can push young people with underlying mental health issues “to the limit,” Jolly said in a press release from Penn State Health.

Other factors include family dysfunction and long periods of forced time with others. Even children from so-called healthy families can feel overwhelmed. Anxiety about the financial struggles of stopping the pandemic, constant bad news, and health concerns can also pass from parents to children.

Parents should watch out for certain behavioral changes in their children, Jolly said. Have their sleep patterns changed? Are they sleeping more or less? Do they have trouble concentrating? Do they appear drowsy or lethargic? Do they spend more time alone in their rooms? Do they laugh or get mad at little things?

“Don’t be afraid to reach out,” Jolly said.

If parents are concerned about their children’s mental health, they should see a primary care provider, who can recommend what to do next, he advised.

Parents can help their children to be simply present in their life. For example, cook meals as a family, play games, and share outdoor activities such as walks or runs, Jolly suggested.

“Anything you can do together as a family will help you,” he said.

Some gatherings with friends are fine, as long as everyone follows social distancing measures such as meeting in open spaces, wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart, according to Jolly.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34 in the United States.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on children’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: Penn State Health, press release, February 3, 2021

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