There is a video game called, "Ultimate Despair" and according to the advertisement, "Their goal is to spread despair across the entire world, driving it into a state of self-destructive anarchy." For many, this is how real life feels every day, and it's not a game.
One of the most difficult things to hear as a psychotherapist is a client or a parent of a client divulges they or a family member are considering suicide. We have seen an increase of children in treatment for depression, anxiety, isolation, and self-harm behaviors (cutting, restricted eating, addiction, sexually acting out). This increase is alarming as well as challenging when we are limited by resources and referral options due to Covid-19.
The number 1 cause of death in teens are motor vehicle accidents, but according to UC Davis Health website, "Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-24 and has been increasing every year since 2007." (Read more: https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/even-before-covid-19-pandemic-youth-suicide-already-at-record-high/2021/04)
According to the website LBGTQ Nation, "About 40% of LGBTQ youth have contemplated suicide in the last year, according to a national survey by the Trevor Project. The information was gathered between December 2, 2019 and March 31, 2020, which means most respondents answered before they were faced with the even tougher circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic." (Read more: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/07/nearly-half-lgbtq-youth-considered-suicide-last-year-pandemic/
When students were forced to attend school remotely via video classes, the number of high performing students plummeted and those who struggled before distance learning fell into despair. As they watched their grades fall exponentially many considered suicide. Parents exacerbated the problem by pressing their children harder and harder to get grades back up to pre-pandemic standards and teachers shamed and criticized students who were unable to keep up. Children were stuck in the middle with no ability to cope and depression and anxiety was how they reacted. This created a feeling of hopelessness with nowhere to go for help.
One of the risk factors that increases the likelihood of someone successfully committing suicide is knowing another family member committed suicide. Many parents who lost their jobs due to Covid shutdowns took their own lives. Children and partners left behind had the additional challenges of the loss of a parent. In addition to these factors, daily reports that thousands were dying from Corona Virus created even more fear and overwhelmed by grief and loss children took their own lives.
There are many warning signs that your youth is contemplating suicide. Symptoms of depression, saying they feel like a burden, loss of interest in usual activities or friends, withdrawing from family, poor hygiene, increasing substance, or acting out can be indicators of suicidal ideation.
Other common signs include:
Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
Lack of response to praise
Looking for a way to access lethal means
Increased anger, rage or irritability
Extreme mood swings
Changes in eating and sleeping habits that result in sleeping too little or too much and eating too little or too much
Talking, posting, or obsessing about death or wanting to die
Making plans for suicide
More physical complaints often linked to emotional distress, such as stomachaches, headaches, and extreme tiredness (fatigue)
Making plans or efforts toward committing suicide or writing a suicide note
Giving or throwing away important or favored possessions
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of harming yourself, please reach out for help.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or text CONNECT to 741741
To see how your state compared in suicide numbers to other states in 2021 go to: https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/suicide-rates-by-state