The pandemic has seriously deteriorated his mental health and doubled the psychiatric emergencies
Suicide has become the leading cause of death in young Spanish people, something that has never happened in history since statistics are available. In 2019, 309 people between the ages of 15 and 29 took their lives, a figure that is slightly ahead of traffic accidents, which totaled 307 deaths, according to data from the Spanish Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The president of this organization, Andoni Anseán, is cautious when evaluating the numbers and assures that the phenomenon is partly due to the gradual reduction in deaths from traffic accidents, which have dropped by 40% since 2010, while suicides have grown 30% in the same period.
The third cause of death, cancer, has also plummeted 33% in a decade. «These data must be taken with a grain of salt. We must see what happens in the year 2020, in which there will surely be a decrease due to confinement, given that suicide attempts are much lower at home. The existence of people is the greatest factor of protection. What we do not know is if later, in 2021, it emerged again, because there are still no figures, “says Anseán.
It is true that for now there are no official numbers, but the perception among the heads of psychiatry services in hospitals is that in recent months emergencies in this field have skyrocketed. According to the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), this type of care for minors has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic, which has resulted in a worsening of eating disorders and an increase in cases of anxiety , obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, self-harm and suicide attempts in adolescents.
“In 2020, there will surely be a decrease due to confinement. People don’t commit suicide at home »
Andoni Ansean. President of the Spanish Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The Society of Child Psychiatry (SPI) of the pediatrician organization argues that the avalanche of negative news, coupled with irregular sleep rhythms, undermines the mental health of minors. What is happening to cause this deterioration in mental health at such an early age? The growing economic uncertainty, the lack of expectations and the rampant unemployment fertilize the terrain of precariousness. In this situation, emancipation seems impossible.
For Anseán, the profile of patients admitted to health centers has changed. If before the internments of women who tried to commit suicide by taking drugs predominated, now there are younger people who use quite drastic methods to disappear from the map. “Now we are seeing many cases of minors.” One of the few studies that attests to this rise in suicide attempts and self-harm is the one coordinated by the head of the Mental Health area of the Sant Joan de Déu de Espluges de Llobregat Hospital (Barcelona), Montse Dolz, who has recorded a growth of attempts, especially adolescents, in its center. According to the work, this type of endeavor rose to 27% in the first quarter of 2021.