David Briceno: Young adult suicides troubling
If coronavirus is the new deadly pandemic that won’t go away, suicide is the old deadly epidemic that won’t go away. The good news is for the most part both can be prevented.
The bad news, however, is suicides are rising more and more due to the adverse effects of the pandemic. People are essentially killing themselves. And darker days are even ahead.
Many months ago, health experts predicted coronavirus cases would surge during this cold weather season. No one can say the public wasn’t forewarned about the upcoming winter.
The infectious disease professionals were right. Deaths from Covid-19 have now risen at an unprecedented rate nationwide. Suicides, too.
There’s absolutely no comparison between Covid deaths and suicides in numbers: over a quarter of a million deaths in 2020 due to this pandemic as opposed to the number of suicides having occurred: nearly 48,500.
Even though suicide deaths presently number about one-fifth that of America’s coronavirus deaths, still, the pandemic has caused wide disruptions in everyday living that have altered interaction and opinions about suicide.
While the pandemic causes certain suicides, there’s other reasons besides Covid for why someone takes their own life.
This virus that has impacted lives negatively for so many has also made suicide less taboo and more a possibility than before. It’s becoming less preventable for many young unhappy young adults.
In fact, an August Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study of this year found that one-quarter of those between the ages of 18 and 24 had seriously thought about ending their own lives at some point within the past 30 days.
That figure should be alarming, but really isn’t for that many young people nowadays. Coronavirus virus cases are spiking and suicides are likewise increasing.
A person commits suicide every eleven minutes on average in America. Without a doubt, suicide means many young lives are being held in the balance from being hostages of the societal consequences of Covid-19.
Suicides aren’t decreasing. The CDC reported that between 2007 and 2017, of those ranging between the ages of 10 and 24, the suicide rate rose 56 percent. And according to the American Medical Association, suicides among young adults are now at their highest level in two decades.
Currently, suicide is still the second leading cause of death for those 10 to 34. But the pandemic, of course, isn’t solely responsible for such high suicide rates among young adults.
This devastating pandemic has become 2020’s New Abnormal. Living through it takes great resilience. For many youth this virus continues to choke freedom. It’s restricting. Confining. Frustrating.
However, taking one’s own life shouldn’t be happening among younger people since suicides are preventable, not inevitable. Help is out there and a suicide can be averted if willingly recognized possibly in time. (Incidentally, many mental health experts are now saying video games are very good for mental health during the pandemic.)
So know suicide’s warning signs. It helps. There are certain clues that someone may give when they’re contemplating suicide. Three telltale signs to look for are hopelessness, worthlessness, and meaninglessness.
These become mental health issues if very serious enough. Untreated depression, any undiagnosed mental illness for that matter, ranks as the No. 1 cause of suicides among youth today in America.
Mental illness accounts for 90 percent of all youth suicides. So a son or daughter that is experiencing severe disturbing feelings of prolonged worthlessness and hopelessness is at the highest risk.
The most important thing to watch out for as a parent is a son or daughter experiencing strong feelings of hopelessness because young people (even older adults, too) who will attempt suicide are going through such severe feelings of hopelessness that they believe there’s no other way out — that there’s no other solution other than to end the pain by ending his or her own life.
Also, when it comes to feelings of utter worthlessness many kids can’t express or hardly can express in words what’s truly bothering them. And that could be disastrous, even deadly.
It helps to break through the silence by talking with them and not at them. They may have a problem that’s causing them to have troubled behavior due to financial problems; job loss or prolonged unemployment; relationship difficulties or breakups; psychological issues; overwhelming stressors (job stress) and responsibilities; and also drug and/or alcohol abuse.
These are now heightened owing to the pandemic. Surely, young adults committing many suicides is a troubling public health crisis.
David Briceno lives in Grass Valley,
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