Mental Health Issues and Suicides Among Our Youth Is the Most Underreported COVID Story of the Year

Thomas Andre Fure/
Thomas Andre Fure/

The case against strict lockdowns due to COVID-19 is building because of the result it may have on teenagers and children. Jan Crawford, a reporter for CBS News, told the network that there is “a crushing impact” with overly strict lockdowns on the young and that there is a significantly elevated “risk of suicide” among teens. She believes that this is “the greatest underreported story of the past year.”

On Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” Crawford said, “My kids hear me rant about this every day, so I might as well tell you guys: It’s the crushing impact that our COVID policies have had on young kids and children [who are] by far the least serious risk for serious illness.”

She noted that a healthy teenager has a one in a million chance of getting and dying from COVID. These stats are much lower than dying in a car accident. Crawford said that it is the young who have suffered and sacrificed the most and that is even more true for those who come from underrepresented at-risk communities. 

This coincides with the Surgeon General saying. that there is a mental health crisis with our children. She indicated that the risk of suicide attempts with girls is now up 51% this year. Black kids are now almost twice as likely to die from suicide as white kids. 

It was in May of 2020 that suicide rates among all young people ages 12-17 began to rise. That was the third month of the pandemic and the lockdowns. According to the CDC, from February 21 to March 20 of 2021, suspected suicide attempt ED visits were 50.6% higher for girls aged 12-17 than during the same time in 2019.

This trend is continuing, it is 39.1% higher in the first few months of 2021 than in 2020. 

Crawford focused on the school closures, lockdowns, and the cancellation of sports as the things that are deriving the mental health crisis with young people. She described the inability of kids even going to a playground in the D.C. area without police officers telling them to leave. She said these restrictions have hurt their dreams, kept them from learning, and put some in a place of sick from abuse. These actions have damaged their mental health. 

What is striking from the statistics is that many of those who have died by suicide were known to be popular and well-adjusted. 

Spencer Smith was a sophomore at Brunswick High School. He felt isolated due to distance learning. His dream was to play a lineman on the Brunswick High School football team. But his hopes were crushed when the high school replaced the sport with flag football. 

Spencer’s mother, Angela, wrote, “I just lost a son because he couldn’t be with his friends. He was trapped in the house. He felt like he lost his friends and had a hard time with his school work.”

It’s not just the young, mental health issues are on the rise across all of society. The number of people in the United States reporting they suffered from anxiety and depression almost quadrupled in 2020 compared to 2019. This is according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Crawford also spotlighted the increasing rates of child abuse because of the pandemic. Abuse of children tripled in March through September of 2020 compared to the previous year. She believes that our policies need to reflect a more measured and reasonable approach for the young, or they will be paying for the adult decisions made today for the rest of their lives. Again, Crawford believes this makes it the most unreported story of the year.