Are shutdowns leading to youth suicide?

They are, according to this article in the Washington Post. And why wouldn’t they be? As a result of shutdowns and lockdowns, teenagers are not going to school, not playing sports, and not hanging out with friends. That’s a formula for depression and, in too many cases, suicide.

The Post’s article, which appears in the sports page, focuses on the denial of opportunities to participate in sports:

For many teens who have been restricted from playing sports, the pandemic not only has stripped away the opportunity for exercise, competition and potential college scholarships but also has deprived those young athletes of the identity and social circles provided by sports. The mental health benefits that athletics can give students have been a driving force for thousands of parents who have protested the shutdown of sports in their communities across the country, with many often fearing the worst if their kids aren’t able to play.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that, according to the Post “suicides among teen athletes have rocked several youth programs since the pandemic began in March.”

Surveys support the view that pandemic-related restrictions are severely harming the mental health of teenagers:

A survey of high school athletes conducted by the University of Wisconsin this summer found that approximately 68 percent of the 3,243 teens polled have reported feelings of anxiety and depression at levels that typically require medical intervention — nearly 40 percent higher than past studies. The study, which also found that physical activity levels were 50 percent lower for kids than before the pandemic, was labeled “striking and concerning” by one researcher.

The lead researcher of the study at Wisconsin, Tim McGuine, said in an interview in August that “the greatest risk [to student-athletes] is not covid-19. It’s suicide and drug use.”

(Emphasis added)

I would amend that last statement slightly. In my view, covid-19 poses very little risk to student athletes. The likelihood that a healthy teenager will die from this virus is almost zero. The likelihood that a healthy parent or coach — typically people in their 30s and 40s — will die from the transmission of the virus due to sports outings is also small. Older parents and parents with conditions that put them at risk can hold their kids out of sports. At risk coaches can opt out.

Liberals like to talk about “the kids,” as in “we’re doing it for the kids.” But the liberals’ response to the coronavirus, given the effects of that response on young peoples’ mental health, shows these claims to be self-righteous posturing. I’m not sure for whom they are locking down schools and youth sports — maybe for the teachers’ unions — but it’s certainly not for the kids.

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