Is COVID-19 the Reason for Recent Spikes in Suicide?


Natalia Cullins, Contributor

Children’s suicide rates have gone up in Las Vegas, and one of the principals that works for the Clark County School District is concerned. Children are being negatively affected by Covid-19, and they are taking their lives because of it. The death of Anthony Orr is what alerted his principal into seeing a pattern of suicides in his district and his city in general. Orr was very excited for all the senior events, including prom and graduation, but unfortunately, an in-person prom and graduation, and even his senior trip, were taken from him because of COVID. After his mini six-feet apart graduation, he decided not to go to college and work in construction since his class would be virtual. Soon after graduation in August, he commited suicide. He is only one of 19 students that have committed suicide in the district since March 2020. (NPR)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between April and October 2020, hospital departments have seen a rise in kids for mental health needs. Seven states across the country are reporting a similar trend and the children are in a worse mental state. At Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, the number of children and teens hospitalized after suicide attempts went up from 67 in 2019 to 108 in 2020. Also, October 2020 saw a 250% increase in these numbers over the past October. Most teens use school to be social and with COVID in full effect, teens are feeling more and more isolated. Also, every child learns in a different way, and with the new online learning, it’s making it harder for them to get the information in a way they will understand. (WAMU)

Child psychiatrist, Dr. Rettew says that there is specific data that link suicide rates and COVID, but looking from the outside we can see that something is causing deaths and COVID is one of the major things that everybody is stressed out about all the time. He writes that “Overall, pediatricians should not be needlessly panicked that the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a surge in youth suicide. The data at this point simply don’t support that assertion despite many headlines to the contrary.” Even though he says he doesn’t think that COVID has anything to do with the recent spike in suicides, he also says that “at the same time, many children and adolescents are certainly struggling with the stresses the pandemic has created and continue to need our close monitoring and support.” (MDedge)