A recent study in the United States has found an alarming increase in suicide rates among children coinciding with the return to in-person schooling after the COVID-19 pandemic. The research, titled “In-Person Schooling and Youth Suicide: Evidence from School Calendars and Pandemic School Closures,” studied reported suicide cases in relation to the time when in-person schooling resumed across the country, and found an 18% increase in suicide rates.
The study discovered that suicide rates among 12- to 18-year-olds are highest during the school year and lowest during the summer months (June through August). Regions with schools starting in early August saw an increase in teenage suicides in August, while regions with schools starting in September did not see an increase in youth suicides until September. However, the study found that this seasonal trend shifted significantly in 2020. Suicide rates dramatically plummeted in March 2020, when COVID-related lockdowns began, and remained low throughout the summer months before climbing in the fall of 2020 when many schools resumed in-person education.
These findings are alarming and suggest that there may be underlying issues within the school system that are contributing to the increased suicide rates. One potential factor is bullying. Using Google searches as a proxy for concern about bullying, the researchers found that fully reopening schools were linked to a 52% increase in bullying-related searches, a 42% increase in cyberbullying searches, and a 93% increase in searches about school bullying. This suggests that bullying may be a significant contributing factor to the increased suicide rates.
It is important to address bullying in schools and create a safe and supportive environment for all students. This may involve implementing anti-bullying policies and programs, providing training for teachers and staff on how to identify and address bullying, and promoting a culture of kindness and respect within the school community.
In addition to addressing bullying, it may also be helpful to provide resources and support for students who may be struggling with mental health issues. This could include providing access to counseling services, promoting mental health awareness and education, and establishing a system for identifying and helping students who may be at risk for suicide.
Overall, it is clear that there is a need for action to address the increased suicide rates among children in the United States. By addressing bullying, providing support for mental health, and creating a safe and supportive environment for all students, we can work towards reducing these rates and creating a brighter future for our youth.