I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic when I tell you that there’s more hard rain coming following the fallout of the pandemic and our government’s decisions to deal with it.
Consider this tragedy that happened in one of the towns in which Battle Born Media publishes a community newspaper. (I hope it hasn’t happened in yours, but I suspect there is a chance it did.)
An eighth-grader who had been out of public school for almost a year due to COVID restrictions, killed himself this month. His mother said he was lonely and increasingly despondent. And, as you can imagine in a small town, the heartbreak reverberated through town, among parents and former classmates.
Some friends of the family took to social media to lay blame on the government’s stay-at-home orders and the failure of local schools to open to in-person learning. Blaming one factor in a situation like this is unfair. But it does highlight a real angst that exists in almost every town in America.
Isolation stemming from government COVID-19 rules — the sustained shutdown of in-person school, the curtailing of in-person worship and restrictions of generational interaction — weighs on us in 2021. And statistics are beginning to show that thoughts of suicide, attempts at suicide and actual suicides are on the rise.
A recent study found that “Significantly higher rates of suicide-related behaviors appear to have corresponded with times when COVID-19 stressors and community responses (e.g., stay-at-home orders and school closures) were heightened, indicating that youth experienced elevated distress during these periods.”
How elevated? Results showed suicidal thoughts were 1.60 and 1.45 times higher in March and July 2020, respectively, than in March and July 2019. Odds of recent suicide attempt were 1.58, 2.34, 1.75 and 1.77 times higher in February, March, April and July 2020 than the same months in 2019, respectively.
So, as far as I can see, the bottom line for families and towns across Nevada is for Gov. Steve Sisolak and President Joe Biden do their level best to bring the pandemic to a close and at the same time make wise decisions that alleviate the social and medical issues stemming from the pandemic.
But in the end, as every mom and dad out there knows, the best defense for our children rests not Carson City or in Washington, D.C., but in our own living rooms.
Watch your kids like a hawk. Give ‘em a hug. And let’s get our schools open now.
ONE MORE THING
— I’m trying to organize a hide and seek tournament, but good players are really hard to find.
— Dad, are we pyromaniacs? Yes, we arson.
— Never buy flowers from a monk. Only you can prevent florist friars.
— For my Rolling Stones fans, I found this rare photo of band member Keith Richards holding Betty White.
I’m sorry about that florist friars joke. I’ll pick up my knitting and let myself out. Thanks for reading. Be safe, be kind and mask-up. And, if I may be so bold, subscribe to this Battle Born Media newspaper. Your support is a crucial way in which we keep going.
(Sherman R. Frederick is the founder of Battle Born Media, a newspaper company dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. You can follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/sherm.frederick/. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)