As is well known, the prolonged lockdowns imposed by certain governments as a result of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic has caused a considerable increase in psychiatric disorders in millions of people throughout the world. Hong Kong, one of the urban centers most affected by this problem, triggered an alarm because of the record number of suicides in children and adolescents during the last year.

According to recent reports, in Hong Kong, suicides in children under 15 years of age reached an all-time high in 2021. Specialists attributed the phenomenon to the prolonged disruption in face-to-face learning due to the pandemic.

According to data from the Forensic Court, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Suicide Prevention and Research Center, the suicide rate in children under 15 during 2021 reached 1.7 per 100,000 children. Nearly doubling the 0.9 per 100,000 recorded for 2019.

During the last year, more than 25 Hong Kong children between the ages of 13 and 18 took their own lives voluntarily and for the under 12 age group at least 4 took their own lives. At the same time, the suicide rate among 15 to 24-year-olds also increased from 8.6 per 100,000 in 2020 to 9.3 2021.

Suicide prevention professionals have been sounding alarm bells over the past few months in Hong Kong, particularly due to concerns about the increase in suicides among children under 15. 

It should be noted that suicide is the final expression of a phenomenon usually linked to severe depression. Of course, few reach the point of ending their own lives, which implies that if the suicide rate increases, the population’s malaise, depression, and unhappiness have also increased. This is also demonstrated by the increase in psychiatric consultations and the higher consumption of psychotropic drugs detected.

Kenus Leung pui-yee, an educational psychologist in Hong Kong, said that children needed to adapt to many changes in their learning environment during the pandemic. In other words, in addition to the normal stress involved in academic performance, there was the added stress to adapt to a new educational system.

In March 2022, amid Orwellian lockdowns in various regions of China, suicide prevention researchers at the University of Hong Kong urged the CCP to open recreational facilities as a matter of urgency, especially for those who presented a higher isolation and mental health risks, given that suicide rates in Hong Kong were in a state of “crisis.”

Paul Yip director of the center said, “We believe social distancing introduced not only physical distancing, but also emotional disconnectedness, leading to a sense of isolation and abandonment by family members and their community… [causing] an impact on mental health.” He attempt to communicate that the lockdowns were causing a serious disruption to society and especially to the most vulnerable populations.

On the other hand, Suicide Prevention Services (SPS), a nonprofit organization that operates a hotline for those in need, reported that it had received 50% more calls this year compared to the previous 12 months. And 80% of those calls were associated with pandemic.

In September, classes in Hong Kong resumed, albeit on a part-time basis. There appears to be some uncertainty in the educational field because curricula are designed for full-time.

Suicides among the elderly are also of concern

During the months of increased confinement, suicides for people over 60 and the elderly also rose sharply.

A suicide prevention group in Hong Kong recently reported that one of the reasons why so many suicides were detected among the over-60 group is that few of the elderly seek help.

The group, Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong, reported that only 13% of the calls received last year for assistance for extreme depression were from the over-60 age group. But the Coroner’s Court said that 44 percent of suicides in 2021 were from this age group.

Of course, it is natural to be more concerned about the issue of suicide in children and adolescents, given that they still have a whole productive life ahead of them, but elderly suicide highlights that we should not abandon any sector of the population.

A problem that is repeated all over the world

The growing problem of deteriorating mental health in millions of people is not only limited to Hong Kong, but most of the countries that have implemented COVID lockdown measures. Their published statistics on suicides and mental health have detected a considerable increase in these problems since the pandemic began.

Among other similar cases, the Children’s Hospital in Colorado, in the United States, declared a “pediatric mental health state of emergency” in mid-2021, because of the large increase in mental health crises and suicide attempts recorded during those months due to lockdowns, school closures, and other restrictions imposed by the CCP virus (COVID).  

The hospital’s medical director, David Brumbaugh, stated, “Our kids have run out of resilience. Their tank is empty. That’s where we are right now as a system and it’s impacting families across our metro area, across our state.”

Children and adolescents, having lost their close ties, have developed an accumulation of negative emotions, say the specialists at the Children’s Hospital, and this has created a breeding ground for hopelessness, which is what leads to a possible suicidal outcome.

It has also been shown that this situation is not quickly reversed by simply returning to normality, since children must re-establish their lost bonds, which is not easy for most of them.

It would seem that the Western world, at least, has learned this lesson as a certain normalcy has generally returned and COVID lockdowns are often condemned and seen as a dark page in recent history.

However, the CCP, foolish and true to its authoritarian tendency, continues to insist on the same measures that have failed in most parts of the world, despite putting the mental health of its own population at risk. 

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