This year has been a whirlwind of changes. No Senior prom. No Graduation. Sports cancelled. College up in the air. Everything a teen looks forward to as a rite of passage into adulthood has been stripped away from them this year due to Covid-19.
To cope with these aggressive changes, teens are in crisis on how to deal with the surge of emotions. Some may choose drugs or even suicide to cope with the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness or abandonment from not being able to interact. One thing remains consistent – teens need help, love, and direction.
This year alone, there has been a spurt not only in suicides from lack of mental health coverage due to parents losing their job then their health insurance coverage; but also, in substance abuse to block out emotion, and trauma. Parents are affected by the financial burden the pandemic has created. However, the anxious and fearful emotions from the parents trickle down to their children.
It is estimated 48,000 people die a year by suicide. The rate is roughly 6 people an hour. Although the number seems insignificant, suicide in the US is the 10th leading cause of death. To put it all into perspective kidney disease in ranked 9th and pneumonia/influenza is 8th.
This generation of new adults getting into the world is losing their individuality to differentiate themselves from their parents and create a social/emotional environment for themselves at school. With this taken away and also the stay-at-home order to curve the spread, it is more difficult for teachers, counselors and even sport coaches to check up on their students. Everyone is acting differently due to the Covid-19 rules so to pinpoint suicidal behaviors is trickier.
Or as Jonathan Singer, a professor of social work at Loyola University, Chicago, and an expert on youth suicide said, “In a pandemic, it’s only the parents seeing the kid. If you’re [a teacher] on a Zoom call with 25 other kids, you’re not going to be picking up on these things. Everybody is acting differently now. So, Joey’s acting differently today, well, it’s a pandemic, what do you expect?”
With school starting across the US whether only online or a hybrid version, it is imperative for teachers to pick up on behaviors of students. Offering ways to stay connected by online chats and to make themselves available. The need to have procedures/resources in place to help students cope remotely or even going back to school (online/hybrid), is essential.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.