The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus has resulted in the recommendation of various disease containment measures around the world. For instance, health care organization bodies like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been at the forefront in ensuring that countries around the world have adhered to the set measures. Moreover, several governments had to impose curfew measures to restrict social interactions among their citizens. As a result, such measures led to social isolation, which had significant impacts on many people. It is important to note that the children and adolescent population were mostly affected by the stringent Covid-19 containment measures. Studies state that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in adverse long-term impacts on the mental health of adolescents and children (Singh et al.). As such, this paper will discuss the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in adolescent isolation and suicide. The pandemic affected adolescents because of stringent isolation measures, which resulted in mental challenges and such as depression and anxiety, hence suicidal thoughts.
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As experienced in several countries around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the closure of many public institutions, including schools. This meant that many students could no longer interact with one another in the normal way. Research suggests that school closures and social distancing contributed to increased loneliness among adolescents and children due to the cut-down of their usual social interaction (Loades et al. 1218). Consequently, due to the increased rates of loneliness, many students in the adolescent stage experienced emotional challenges that can be painful most of the time. Due to the loneliness brought about by the containment measures, many adolescents around the world have had to face a variety of mental challenges and disorders, which have been linked with suicide. For example, research has found that social isolation has contributed to increased suicidal behavior and psychiatric disorders (Sher 709). Admittedly, all human beings are social beings who need to interact with one another on a regular basis. However, the case might be different when it comes to adolescents because it is a critical developmental stage.
Nevertheless, adolescents need frequent interaction with their peers, which is an important process in the development of their mental and emotional wellbeing. Thus, when they are forced into social isolation, adolescents may develop mental issues, including anxiety and depression. Study reports have noted that the recent closure of learning institutions also led to limited access to mental health services among students, including adolescents (Hertz & Lisa 85). This means that vulnerable adolescent students who had unlimited access to their teachers and counselors could no longer be able to present their emotional and mental issues and get adequate help. The resulting effect is depression and anxiety, which can lead to suicidal thoughts. Subsequently, if the suicidal thoughts are not addressed in a timely manner, they are likely to lead to increased rates of suicide among adolescents.
How Covid-19 Isolation Contributes to Depression and Anxiety, hence Adolescent Suicide
Depression and anxiety are some of the most recognized mental issues in the field of psychology. As such, it is worth noting that anxiety and depression are not only prevalent among adults but also among adolescents and children. Triggered by the strict measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, many school-going adolescents had their social life cut down abruptly. As a result, the adolescents experienced significant disruption in their normal way of life in terms of interaction and socialization. This also resulted in a variety of emotional and behavioral changes, including issues with sleep patterns, increased alcohol and drug abuse, isolation trauma, and increased likelihood of becoming resentful and angry with the slightest provocation, as well as becoming destructive and disrespectful (Manzar et al.). Accordingly, it is as a result of such behavioral changes during isolation that led to the increased tendency among adolescents that further influenced depression and anxiety. Anxiety was contributed to by the fact that many adolescents, children, and youths did not know what to do with their life during isolation, while depression was contributed to by increased stress levels.
Consequently, there was a high possibility for many adolescents to engage in withdrawal behaviors. Additionally, when they are left alone in isolation, there is also a great possibility that some adolescents can be overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts and may end up committing suicide. Also, it is essential to note that most parents are not well-informed about the psychological processes that take place during the adolescent development stage. Hence, most caregivers are likely to handle their children’s needs during the adolescent phase in an unprofessional manner. This may also lead to anxiety and depression among adolescents as most of them may feel like their parents are not supporting their psychological needs. Manzar et al. reveal that the measures against the Covid-19 pandemic may have significantly contributed to reduced family support. This is because the containment measures also came with massive economic shutdowns that rendered most families economically unstable. What follows is that most parents had to seek and concentrate on alternative sources of income, which led to the neglect of their children’s psychological needs.
In addition, most parents were also overwhelmed with the increased economic burden and also developed depression. Such situations, when witnessed by school-going children, also influence the development of depression among children and adolescents. Furthermore, some adolescents even felt like they were becoming much of a burden to their families, a situation that led to contemplation about suicide. During the isolation period, some families lost their members, which also resulted in increased levels of depression and anxiety. The feelings are likely to be presented to the adolescent children who may also sink into anxiety and depression, especially for those who might have lost their parents and guardians. The consequences of such mental disorders are likely to lead to suicidal thoughts if not addressed adequately by a counselor or a psychologist, who at that time were not easily accessible.
Recommended Strategies to avoid Suicide among Adolescents
Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic led to increased mental challenges among several populations around the world, including adolescents. However, curbing the spread of the disease is a priority despite the challenges that might be faced. For this reason, several strategies can be adopted to ensure mental soundness among adolescents during isolation so as to avoid the increased rate of suicidal thoughts and suicide. One of the strategies that could be implemented is online psychological counseling. Online sessions with psychologists can significantly impact the development of the mental wellbeing of adolescents during the isolation period. This strategy is also convenient because it is in line with the measures like social distancing that have been put in place to contain the disease. Therefore, parents are encouraged to look for ways through which they can gain digital access to psychologists to help their adolescent children to deal with mental wellness challenges.
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During the critical times of the Coronavirus epidemic, parents are also expected to become good role models and actively engage in supporting the lives of their children. This means that they are in the best position to investigate and determine what their children might be going through mentally and emotionally. By doing so, parents can then be able to help their adolescent children to cope with the challenges that they face. Moreover, though adolescents are more mature than children, there is still a need to teach them about the importance of social distancing and isolation during the epidemic. This will enable them to find alternative ways of coping with their situation and understand that once the pandemic is over, they will go back to their normal lives and be able to interact regularly with their peers once more.
In conclusion, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a major global challenge since it broke out. As a result, many governments, including the United States government, were forced to come up with strict containment measures to avoid the spread of the disease. One of the measures was social isolation, which has significantly affected the mental wellbeing of many adolescents around the world. Thus, many adolescents experienced mental challenges, including depression and anxiety, which resulted in increased suicidal thoughts and suicide. For this reason, it is recommended that, despite the strict measures, online counseling could be adopted to help adolescents in dealing with mental health challenges. Also, parents should be role models and teach their children about the importance of isolation and provide them with continuous emotional and mental support.
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Manzar, Md. Dilshad et al. “Suicide among Adolescents and Youths during the COVID‐19 Pandemic Lockdowns: A Press Media Reports‐based Exploratory Study.” Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 2021. Web.
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Singh, Shweta, et al. “Impact of COVID-19 and Lockdown on Mental Health of Children and Adolescents: A Narrative Review with Recommendations.” Psychiatry Research, vol. 293, 2020, p. 113429. Web.