Guest Essay: Have Suicide Rates Gone Up Because of The National Pandemic?

Adrian High School senior Elizabeth Morford recently commented on a Facebook post by easternoregonsports.com. Reading her comment and feeling her passion, we reached out to Morford, asking if she would share a paper she recently completed for a school assignment. In addition to her school assignment, we asked her for her personal thoughts from a senior journeying her way through lockdown, online schooling and missing out on high school life.

Morford was kind enough to allow easternoregonsports.com to share her data, but more importantly, her thoughts on what life is like for a teenager living in a small town, a community formerly sports crazy with high school teams consistently chalking up accolades both on the field of play and academically.

We proudly present Morford’s essay, unedited and in its entirety. We thank Elizabeth for a chance to see into her life and hope she received an A in her senior writing class.

              Have Suicide Rates Gone Up Because of The National Pandemic?

In 2020, we as a nation are faced with a worldwide pandemic. Covid-19 was first introduced to the United States in January 2020. Covid-19 has caused our nation to quarantine throughout the year. Covid has caused schools to close and go to online learning. This has contributed to teens having mental health problems.   Mental health is a very important thing in today’s society. It affects many people in the nation. There are many things that lead to suicide, but it is very apparent that due to the restrictions caused by the national pandemic, suicide rates have gone up. While some individuals attribute various causes to suicide, it has become clear that due to the many restrictions from the pandemic the rate of suicides has increased for some classes of people.

On March 13, 2020 Trump declared that the United States was in a state of emergency (Facher). Schools, grocery stores, restaurants, theatres, dental offices, malls, urgent cares, etc got shut down all across the country. Everyone was in a panic. People did not know whether to believe we were all going to die or not to believe anything the news was saying. Doctors and news articles said that two weeks of quarantine and we would be back to normal. After two weeks, everything was still shut down and people started going crazy. Since March 13, 2020 suicide rates have gone up 30% (Winerman). For women, suicide rates have gone up the most; they have increased by 50% (Winerman). Women committing suicide have gone from 4 to 6 per 100,000 (Winerman). For Men, suicide rates have gone up 21% and men committing suicide have gone from 17.7 to 21.4 per 100,000 (Winerman). Right now suicide is 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

A teen’s mental health is very important. Teens are easily influenced by the smallest things in life. In the June 4-9 survey, which polled more than 83,000 respondents, nearly half (49%) of Americans between the ages of 18-29 exhibited symptoms of anxiety or depression (“America’s Mental Health Crisis”). Teenagers have full access to the internet now, especially because of online school. They are on their computer/phone all day. People have been getting bullied since the beginning of time; only they did not have the internet to cyber bully. Thanks to social media, people are able to anonymously bully other kids online. Many teens have committed suicide because of cyber bullying. Being in quarantine, you get bored and just use social media 24/7. Over half of the country has an eating disorder. Now that all we do is look at instagram, facebook, snapchat, etc; we all see the pictures of the models, and we want to look like them like no other. That is when eating disorders develop. Eating disorders put people into the hospital. Not only are depression and anxiety types of mental disorders, so are eating disorders. It is mostly caused by social media because we all want that “perfect image”, and it is getting worse since all we do is sit on our phones/computers. 

Living with a mental illness is not easy. There are three  main ways to cope with having a mental illness and getting through this national pandemic. The first way is: Radical Acceptance (Pombo). This is where you accept something from the depths of the soul. The second way is: Deep Breathing (Pombo). The breathing technique is probably the most common way people deal with stress/mental illnesses. You repeat these steps: Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 3 seconds, and breathe out for 7 seconds. The third way is: Opposite-To-Emotion Thinking (Pombo). It is just how it sounds. You act in the opposite way your emotions tell you to act. These coping mechanisms have helped so many people through mental illnesses; we need to remember to us these techniques when we are stuck in quarantine.

Most people are so worried about not being able to watch their favorite professional sports team/college team play. Why do you think people are so worried about this? Watching sports on the TV is more than just watching a stupid game; this is how people spend time with family, connect with their friends, etc. You miss watching sports on TV, how do you think the kids who actually play feel? High schools around the country have been shut down; not only did the schools get shut down, so did the sports programs. Physical activity has actually been proven to help prevent mental illness (Peirce). Strong evidence exists showing a 20-30% reduction in depression in people who participate in physical activity daily (Peirce). There have been many studies about how sports/physical activity affect your mental health. All of the results are the same. Physical activity helps prevent anxiety, depression, helps with your self esteem, etc. Kids around the country are stuck in their rooms doing class online. They sit there, and all they do is think. Then they start to overthink, and that is when they start to develop anxiety. Anxiety almost always leads to other mental illnesses. It is hard for these kids because they feel alone. They feel like no one is supporting them; especially when they keep taking away things we love, like school and sports.

While some individuals attribute various causes to suicide, it has become clear that due to the many restrictions from the pandemic the rate of suicides has increased for some classes of people. Over the last twelve months this nation has been put in so many different situations that we have not experienced before. The pandemic has caused many deaths. Some of those deaths are people that do not even have the Covid-19. As stated above, suicide rates have increased in men and women, but over all women suicide rates have increased the most. Being quarantined at home can cause a lot of trauma in society. People must have contact with others; this is what causes them to thrive. I hope that we are able to gain ground on the virus so people can return back to their normal lives and reduce the suicide rates.

I was asked to throw in how I feel about this. This part is not a part of the research paper; this part is simply my opinion.

It was my junior year. It was almost spring break; everyone was so excited to have a break from school, including me. I was sitting in Spanish class one day, and my principal came in and started talking about how we needed to be more careful with everything. Start washing our hands more, not getting so close, etc. My friend was sitting next to me and said “What if we get shut down. That would be great.” The whole class laughed because we all agreed. Our principal was not too happy about the comment because he knew how serious this was. Later that day, I was at my aunt and uncle’s house to babysit my cousin. My mom called me and asked if I saw all of the Facebook posts and the email. I told her that I did not know what she was talking about. She said the words, “Adrian is shut down.” At first I was so happy. No school? It does not get better than that. Everyone at the school joked about how it was an extra long Spring Break. We thought we would be back to school at the end of March. We were so wrong. April went by, no softball or track. My heart was broken; I love playing softball! I eventually got over it and just kept thinking that I still had my senior year. In my mind, there was no way I was not getting my perfect senior year. Summer went by, pretty boring. There was no summer basketball or volleyball. I had nothing to do. August came around, still shut down, school is not looking promising, sports are off of the table at this point. I did not know how to feel. I enrolled into the Adrian Hybrid Program. My small town school has done amazing things to help kids get through this! OSAA told us that we could practice, but could not play any games. I was happy we at least got to practice. The first ‘season’ of volleyball was so fun! It went by way too fast. Then it was time to start softball. Everything was going great! We finished out that ‘season’ and now it was time for basketball. After two days of practice, we got shut back down. No games, and this time no practices either. It was really hard. Not only was I devastated, so was the whole school. We could not believe sports were getting taken away from us again! I know I am not the only one going through all of this. Most schools in the country have this problem. Kids are suffering because of the choices politicians are making. The students need a voice. We need to be heard. There are too many kids taking their own lives. Something needs to be done! Thank you for reading my essay! Have a good day!    

Works Cited

 Facher, Lev, et al. “Trump Declares Coronavirus Pandemic a National Emergency.” STAT, 14 Mar. 2020, www.statnews.com/2020/03/13/nationalemergencycoronavirus/.

“America’s Mental Health Crisis Is Exploding During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” NAMI, www.nami.org/PressMedia/InTheNews/2020/AmericasMentalHealthCrisisisExplodingDuringtheCoronavirusPandemic?feed=Inthenews.

Peirce , Nick. “The Role of Physical Activity and Sport in Mental Health.” The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, 21 May 2018, www.fsem.ac.uk/position_statement/theroleofphysicalactivityandsportinmentalhealth/.

Pombo , Emmie. “Self-Help Techniques for Coping with Mental Illness.” NAMI, 2019, www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMIBlog/January-2019/SelfHelpTechniquesforCopingwithMentalIllness.

Winerman, Lea. “By the Numbers: An Alarming Rise in Suicide.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Jan. 2019, www.apa.org/monitor/2019/01/numbers.