New South Wales is in the throes of a youth suicide crisis with 40 teenagers rushed to hospital every day for self-harm as Sydney’s lockdown enters its tenth week.The NSW Suicide Monitoring System found 8,489 people under 18 were rushed to hospital for self-harm and suicidal thoughts this year, to July 29.The shocking figure, equating to 40 children a day, was a rise of 31 per cent over the same period last year, and 47 per cent from 2019.When the numbers were presented to Premier Gladys Berejiklian at her Covid press conference on Sunday morning, the state leader complained she would be criticised whether she kept the state locked down or not.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian defended Sydney’s lockdown, which is now entering its 10th week, even though youth suicide rates have spiked ‘It is concerning to see the mental anguish people are going through, especially young people, that is why NSW has always tried to take a balanced approach,’ she said.
‘From day one, we have been criticised no matter what we do.
We will keep making decisions in the best interest of our citizens.’I do not shy away from that and I will take any criticism levelled at the government because what we need to do is ensure a balance.’ Ms Berejiklian said she was particularly concerned about western Sydney families struggling through a harder lockdown than the rest of the city, and hoped she could ease restrictions in the next few weeks.
‘We all remember when we were younger, when you are young, you see things differently as to when you are an adult.We appreciate those challenges that families are going through,’ she said.
‘Anything we can do to relieve that…if there is some relief we can offer at any stage, including when we get to 70 per cent first doses, we will consider those because they want us to continue to have a balanced approach.’ She conceded that pandemic has been a ‘stressful time’ for citizens, and said her government would end the lockdown 70 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated – even though the state continues to see record-breaking case numbers.
‘I know what a stressful time this is for people.Those of us who have got means to cope with it find it difficult enough, let alone children and adolescents,’ she said.
The state recorded 1,218 new infections on Sunday, breaking the previous record by almost 200 The state recorded 1,218 new infections on Sunday, almost 200 more than its previous record, which was already the biggest in Australian history.Dr Jeremy McAnulty from NSW Health said he was not a mental health expert, but acknowledged there was an increase in people who have self-harmed arriving in hospital.’That is a trend that has happened over a long period and experts are still trying to untangle how much is Covid-19 related or due to other causes,’ he said.’It is very concerning and we all need to support those people who are presenting [and help] them manage their anxiety.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty from NSW Health (pictured) acknowledged that there has been an increase in people who have self-harmed ‘Covid-19 is an extremely stressful time for all of us, particularly if you are in lockdown or if you are a case or a contact of a case and you are anxious about your physical health.’ The report showed that the demand for mental health services has risen in all age groups since the start of the pandemic, but more so for children and teenagers.Acute mental health admissions up to July 22 for children were up 43 per cent over 2020, but only rose two per cent for the whole population.Mental health hospital admissions, which include psychotic episodes not related to suicide, rose 26 per cent compared to six per cent for everyone.
Mental health admissions for children up to July 22 were up 43% over 2020 statistics, but only rose 2% for the whole population In Victoria, 156 teens a week in the first five months of 2021 were rushed to hospital after self-harming and have suicidal ideations, 88 per cent more than the same time last year, according to The Australian.Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg referred to the situation as a ‘shadow pandemic’ on Sunday.’There is, too, a shadow pandemic occurring before our eyes – anxiety, depression and far worse is on the rise – and only an easing of restrictions will stem the tide,’ he told the Sun-Herald.
He added that the economic and health costs would be high if premiers and chief ministers didn’t stick with their reopening road maps.Almost 8,500 people under the age of 18 were rushed to hospital for self-harm and suicidal thoughts throughout the past year, to July 29 (stock image) ‘Jobs will be lost, businesses will close, debt will increase and the mental health of our community – particularly among kids – will suffer,’ he said.NSW chief psychiatrist Murray Wright said not being able to go to school was particularly damaging as it hurt not only their career aspirations but their social development.’You might feel that you can tolerate an interruption for a certain period of time, but I’m sure lots of people hoped or expected that things would be better by now.That’s not a criticism of anybody but when things drag on, that’s a significant effect on people’s mental health,’ he told the SMH.The NSW budget in June allocated $109.5 million to improve child and adolescent mental health services in every local health district.
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