11-Year-Old’s Death by Suicide During Online Class Shows Our Children Are in Crisis
Every day, the numbers continue to be eyepopping when it comes to COVID-19. Hospitalizations, positive tests, deaths. We see the toll around us constantly. It wears on us and has altered our lives in ways unimaginable. As we worry and struggle with working from home and maintaining social distancing, we forget sometimes that the most innocent among us are the ones silently affected the most.
As much as we adults lament the loss of some of our freedoms, we forget that our children are also reeling from this pandemic and lacking social interactions that they sorely need to function in society later in life. It's as if their growth is being stunted. This goes for their mental growth and health as well.
That's why when I came across this story, it gave me pause.
According to the story, an 11-year old in an online class had his microphone and camera turned off when he took his own life. His sister, who was also in an online class, discovered what had happened and alerted a neighbor and her teacher. The boy was taken to a local hospital and was pronounced dead with his parents by his side.
I'll assume that his parents had to work, and since schools in California are online only, no one was home to supervise this child, who was clearly in distress enough to make a horrible decision.
Could this have been avoided? Absolutely. The world failed this child. If he had been in school, where he could be watched by an adult, perhaps some of the signs of mental illness could have been observed and a plan of action enacted. However, since no one has a plan on how and when students can be allowed back into schools in some areas, this boy fell through the cracks, and all we can do is mourn him.
Who's to blame? It's easy to say that he was in distress over being locked down during the coronavirus pandemic and isolated from the world. This seems like the simplest and most logical reason.
When children are not allowed to interact and be just be kids, there are negative repercussions that may or may not manifest themselves. If the state education officials weren't so concerned with posturing, appeasement, politics and optics, they would have come up with a solution that brought some sense of normalcy to education and put kids back in schools. Someone could have seen the warning signs with this child.
Kids need interaction. They need sociality. It's how they grow up. It's how they learn.
This, along with data that shows students who are enrolled in distance learning are earning 83 percent more Fs than before in one of Virginia's largest school districts, shows they need supervision. They need a teacher. Kids need to be back in school.
We don't precisely know what happened here and we never will. However, if we continue to live in our bubbles and don't engage, we can only mourn for the next family who may experience this tragedy.
If you're having feelings of self-harm or distress, there is always hope. If you're struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)