Las Vegas School Forced to Partially Reopen After Spate of Suicides
18 students commit suicide in the nine months since lockdowns began
In Nevada, Clark County School District has said it wishes to reopen as "quickly as possible" following a recent spate of suicides amid the coronavirus lockdown.
In the nine months that the schools were closed due to COVID-19, there were 18 suicides, double the number of suicides of the previous year, the New York Times reported.
"By July, after the sixth suicide since March, the district invested in a program, the GoGuardian Beacon alert system, to send reports of mild to severe suicide risk," the report said.
"The system, which scans student writings on district-issued iPads, generated more than 3,100 alerts from June to October, indicating behavior such as suicide research, self-harm, written comments, or just the need for help or support."
"When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn't just the Covid numbers we need to look at anymore," Jesus Jara, Clark County superintendent, said.
"We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them," he added.
"They've got to start seeing some movement, some hope."
"We are not only in the midst of a health crisis, but we are being challenged with a mental health crisis and an academic crisis," Jara said.
"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," the New York Times said.
"The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus's spread."
The school is now looking into bringing back in-person learning for elementary-age students, as well as "groups of struggling students even as greater Las Vegas continues to post huge numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths."
According to a press release from the school board:
The students will participate in social-emotional wellness programs, interventions, academic screenings, and small-group instruction.
One-quarter of American young adults have thought about committing suicide since the start of the pandemic, according to a report from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
25.5% of Americans ages 18-24 had seriously contemplated suicide in the last 30 days, the CDC found.
Among those aged 25-44, 16% thought about suicide.
The health body also found that the average proportion of emergency department visits by children for mental health reasons was 44% higher from mid-March into October compared with 2019.
The CDC stated in November:
"Many mental disorders commence in childhood, and mental health concerns in these age groups might be exacerbated by stress related to the pandemic and abrupt disruptions to daily life associated with mitigation efforts, including anxiety about illness, social isolation, and interrupted connectedness to school."
Student's grades have plummeted due to distance learning resulting from the COVID-19 lockdowns.
"School districts from coast to coast have reported the number of students failing classes has risen by as many as two or three times — with English language learners and disabled and disadvantaged students suffering the most," the Associated Press reported in December.
Last year, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, slammed calls to close schools, insisting they are the "safest places" kids can be.
“Today, there’s extensive data that we have—we’ve gathered over the last two to three months—that confirm that K-12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning and they can do it safely and they can do it responsibly,” Redfield said.
"The truth is, for kids K-12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school, and it’s really important that following the data, making sure we don’t make emotional decisions about what to close and what not to close, and I’m here to say clearly the data strongly supports that K-12 schools—as well as institutes of higher learning—really are not where we’re having our challenges.”