According to him, the situation was so serious that his team did not send children home for Christmas, as usual. Isolation also disrupted the ordinary teenage transition, when young people moved from their families to their peers, dr. Vermeiren added. “They feel empty, lonely, and that loneliness brings them into despair,” he said.
In Italy, calls were doubled last year to the main hotline for young people considering or trying to harm themselves. Beds in a child neuropsychiatry unit at the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome have been full since October, said Dr. Stefano Vicari, the director of the unit, said.
Hospitalizations of young Italians who harmed or attempted suicide increased by 30 percent in the second wave of cases.
“For those who say that these are challenges that young people have to go through, that they will come out stronger, this is only true for some, those who have more resources,” said Dr. Vicari said.
Catherine Seymour, head of research at the Mental Health Foundation, a charity in Britain, said young people living in poorer households are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, according to a study conducted among nearly 2,400 teenagers.
“It could be that those in poorer households have more space and internet access to help with schoolwork and communication with their friends,” she said. Seymour said. “They may also be affected by their parents’ financial worries and stress.”
Studies of the first closures indicate that they have already left an indelible mark.
In France, a survey among almost 70,000 students found that 10 percent experienced suicidal thoughts during the first months of the pandemic, and that more than a quarter suffered from depression.