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COVID-19 May Not Be Fatal to Most Kids, But It's Causing Another Crisis

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Posted: Dec 17, 2020 4:00 PM
COVID-19 May Not Be Fatal to Most Kids, But It's Causing Another Crisis

Source: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

At the start of the pandemic when the U.S. was just being told 15 days to slow the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump cautioned that the cure could not be worse than the problem. He talked not only about how a country could be destroyed practically overnight this way from an economic standpoint, but that you’d likely see a rise in drug use and overdoses, domestic abuse, suicide, and mental health problems.

Nine months later, some parts of the country are seeing the impact that closed schools, canceled sports and activities, and long hours of Zoom "learning" have had on children – and it's not good.

More Southern California children and teens killed themselves in the first eight months of the pandemic than in the same period last year, a Southern California News Group analysis shows.

In three out of four Los Angeles-area counties, more young people took their lives between March, when the pandemic swept Southern California, and October, the latest month for which all four coroners offices had data, than in the same eight months last year. Those numbers, from the Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties’ coroners, rose even as the number of adults killing themselves dropped in the same period.

Experts worry that social isolation and other stresses connected to the pandemic are hitting young people hard, especially the most vulnerable among them. And they warn that worse may be coming. (The Press-Enterprise)

That trend is playing out in other parts of the country, as well. In Chicago, pediatric emergency room physicians are seeing a "50 percent increase in mental health visits" at one children's hospital.

“Children and youth are very much impacted by what’s going on in your family,” [Dr. Jennifer] Hoffmann said. “We hear a lot about how COVID-19 is impacting adults more than youth. And that’s true in terms of their physical health –  where adults are being hospitalized and dying from the pandemic. But really among youth it’s a mental health crisis.”

 Whether it’s the loss of a family member or loved ones with building anxiety and depression, the weight of the pandemic is falling on children hard.

“Children with underlying depression and anxiety may experience worsening of their symptoms and we are unfortunately also seeing increases in teens with suicidal thoughts,” she said. (WGN9)

"There's a physical isolation that's taking its toll," Mark Kaplan, a professor of social welfare at UCLA, told The Press-Enterprise. "It's leading to despair."