The Surge in Student Suicides Amid the Coronavirus


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The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have permeated the mental health of students across the nation.

The coronavirus has taken its toll on the mental health of students after shutdowns. Quarantine has greatly impacted the social and educational lives of students  as well. According to The Best Schools website, “The coronavirus has spelled chaos for mental health among college students. Students have had to adapt to online education, deal with death and disruption caused by COVID-19 and adjust to a loss of structure in their lives.” Regardless of age, but especially in high school and college students, poor mental health leads to depression, stress, anxiety, and suicide. 

The shutdown of schools in March 2020 left students feeling lost, and even worse, suicidal. According to the New York Times, Las Vegas schools were particularly affected: “By December, 18 students had taken their own lives.” Because of the increase in suicide, schools had to act quickly and create a solution. 

Schools in Las Vegas decided that they needed to get students back in school as soon as possible, regardless of the rising cases in the area. According to junior Leah Curra, “It is important to be in school, but districts must consider the safety of the community members. The district also must consider that being out of school negatively impacts everyone’s mental health. The Las Vegas school district made the right decision because they are preventing suicides of their students, which is very important. I hope that our school will return soon.” 

Most school districts in the nation would prefer to have a normal, in-person school year; however, the risk of spreading the coronavirus is still high. According to the New York Times, “Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in.”

In Lynbrook, the Board of Education is considering the return of all students every day, regardless of last name.  Board member David Yaker commented, “As many of us either knew already or are finding out for the first time, a school is so much more than books, computers, and tests. The visceral energy within any school building is a vital part of the educational process and is so important for the overall growth of all our students. What is learned at the cafeteria table, during hallway passing, at extra help sessions, and in everyday interactions with peers and teachers is as important as the work being done in the classroom. We have all seen, firsthand, how valuable connection is to human growth and nowhere is that connection as valuable as in our schools, with our students and staff. I am excited that after just about one year, our students will be reunited with their classmates, friends, and teachers.  I hope we have learned the extreme value of our connections with one another and make the most of our time back together again, safely!”

Psychology and history teacher Danielle Reinhert explained, “Research shows that there is a correlation between mental health and remote learning. The pandemic has caused an increase in anxiety and depression among people, particularly among adolescents. Due to school closures and social isolation, high school students have had an extremely challenging year. For many, the increase in anxiety and depression has been caused by the uncertainty of when we are going back to school full time and when life will become ‘normal’ again.” 

Many students, teachers, and parents hope to send students back, but the safety — mentally and physically — of everyone is very important. Reinhert hopes “that we will all be able to return to ‘normal’ life as soon as possible. This includes everyone returning to school and engaging with one another as we did pre-COVID-19. The most important factor, though, is safety. There are staff and students throughout the district and world who have various medical conditions that prevent them from returning right now. There are also students who are scared to get sick from the virus, which increases anxiety and depression even more. I hope that soon, we will all feel comfortable and safe enough to be together again. Among many things, schools provide a safe and supportive environment for students. Therefore, the sooner we can all be connected again, the better.” Reinhert also shared advice for those who may be having mental health struggles during this time: “If you know anyone who is struggling, please encourage them to reach out to a trusted adult at home or at school for additional support.” 

The increase in the number of students that report feeling more anxious and depressed is being seen as an urgent issue. Stress, anxiety, and depression have severe and lasting effects on individuals. According to the Deccan Chronicle, “Older teens struggling with depression are more than twice as likely to drop out of high school as peers without that mental illness or those who recovered from a bout of depression earlier in life, Canadian researchers say.”