Suicides rose significantly amongst Dutch people up to the age of 30 last year, particularly during the lockdown months of January, February and December.
Figures published by a new body, the Commissie Actuele Nederlandse Suïcideregistratie, showed that an average of more than 20 young adults took their own lives each month last year, reports the Parool. But in January, February and December, the totals were more than 30 every month.
According to a Cans breakdown provided to DutchNews.nl, suicides amongst people up to the age of 30 were classed statistically as ‘worrying’ in these three months, compared with the baseline rates measured between 2013 and 2019.
Renske Gilissen, chair of Cans and head researcher at the helpline 113 Suicide prevention, which was asked to compile the figures, said that the statistics were ‘sad and worrying’ and an indication of even more extensive social suffering.
For some people the hard lockdowns, including a curfew, could have been the last straw, she said. ‘There is rarely just one cause, and often people are dealing with several factors piled on top of one another,’ she told the Parool.
‘But the strict corona rules in January, February and December could certainly have played a role. Normally the number of suicides each month is relatively constant, although we often see a peak in January. But in those months, the numbers were markedly higher than in the same months in the years before.’
She added that young adults could be particularly vulnerable if deprived of social contact. ‘Social contact with their peers, going out, discovering the world are so important for young people,’ she reportedly added. ‘If all that is impossible, or hardly possible, it can lead to loneliness and depressive thoughts.’
Elnathan Prinsen, chair of the Dutch psychiatrists association NVvP, who has repeatedly drawn attention to the damage to young people and adolescents when education is shut, told the Parool that while adults can recover mentally from the effects of lockdown, it is harder for young people at an important stage of their development.
‘During the first lockdown, they reported twice as many mental complaints as before,’ he reportedly said. ‘A few months later it was still one and a half times as high, while in older groups you saw complaints return again to a normal level. If young people go into the next lockdown with more problems, they will all pile up.’
Although figures last August suggested that there was no overall increase in suicides up to July, the new breakdown looks at different groups month by month since the pandemic started in March 2020. If a rate is higher than 95% of the other months from 2013 to 2019, it is red-lighted, and this is case for young people in the lockdown periods last year.
In the overall population, there were relatively more suicides than in the previous years in June 2021 – orange lighted – and at ‘yellow’ concern levels in several other months.
Health minister Ernst Kuipers said the increase of suicides in young people was partly related to the closure of educational institutions to stop the spread of coronavirus, and called it ‘truly awful’.
The head of Cans made an appeal to the government to reconsider the current lockdown rules, with the mental effects on young people in mind.
Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts can talk or chat anonymously with the helpline 113.nl or call 113 or the free number 0800-0113
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