The True Cost of Covid-19

At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, our airways were filled with hyperbolic, over the top fear-mongering regarding the novel coronavirus that was to kill us all lest we hunker down in our homes in perpetuity. To be clear, the virus was always very real, although its danger was grossly mischaracterized one way or the other depending on the political tribe one claimed.

But amid the hysteria, there was a certain contingent of people committed to formulating a response to the pandemic based on reason, logic and all the other gifts of the Enlightenment. I referred to them as the “sane middle,” and they were my people. Our position was simple: yes, Covid is a real virus that will take many lives, far more than an average flu season. However, potential deaths from the virus was only one aspect of the analysis. Locking down a country indefinitely has consequences of its own, many of them longterm, and we must look at the full picture in order to arrive at the best possible plan moving forward.

The analysis wasn’t simple by any means but the concept very much was — there were other dangers beside the virus and if we weren’t careful, the cure would become worse than the disease. Now, we are beginning to see the second and third order effects of turning a country into a quasi open-air prison, and I fear this is just the beginning.

Data from emergency departments documented a surge in visits for suicide attempts among 12- to 17-year-old girls in early 2021, compared to before the pandemic, according to a study published on Friday. 

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research determined that emergency departments reported a mean of 50.6% more suspected suicide attempt visits between Feb. 21 and March 20, 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. You read that correctly — a 50% increase. That is more than substantial. And the timeframe in which this happened fits perfectly with the onset and (virtual) end to the pandemic.

Overall, adolescents had 39% more suspected suicide attempt visits in the winter 2021 period compared to 2019, with the increase being largely driven by girls. There was a 3.7% rise in these visits for adolescent boys in that period. 

The study outlines the trends for suspected suicide attempt visits throughout the pandemic. This was not totally without warning, of course. Many mental health experts warned about the effects of the pandemic, including the stay-at-home orders in the spring of 2020.

Now, we have of what common sense should have told all of us from the beginning. CDC data determined that suspected suicide attempt visits among adolescents “increased as the pandemic progressed,” with girls mostly contributing to the boosts.

And the possibility that this rise in suicidal behavior is purely incidental? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Using data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP), researchers analyzed the visits during three periods considered to be “representative of distinct periods throughout the pandemic.”

The time frames — March 29 to April 25 in 2020, July 26 to August 22, 2020 and the winter 2021 period — were compared to the same periods in 2019.

In the spring 2020 period, visits for suspected suicide attempts decreased among all 12- to 25-year-olds, including adolescent girls. But the lockdown didn’t take long to begin rearing its ugly head in the realm of mental health, as adolescents began to see a rise in emergency visits for suspected suicide attempts by early May.

Emergency departments during the summer 2020 period saw a 22.3% increase in visits among adolescents compared to the 2019 period. Girls, in particular, documented a 26.2% rise in suspected suicide attempt visits, while boys saw a 10.8% increase from 2019. 

It’s important to note that suicide attempts are often, at their heart, a cry for attention. This makes perfect sense when one considers that these young Americans have been deprived of the human interaction they require to develop into levelheaded, well-rounded human beings. There is only so much that can be accomplished via Zoom meetings online. People require one another, especially children. Social development is every bit as important as the academic subjects taught in school. One can be well learned, but if they are not able to navigate the world around them and the personalities it entails, they can expect a difficult life.

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Big Picture

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The budding mental health crisis brought on by draconian lockdowns—which were largely ineffective, by the way—could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the long-term effects we’ll suffer from these misguided policies.

Consider the economic havoc that has been wrought by the closing of businesses, cancelled events, etc. Many of these engines of the economy will never recover, despite government programs meant to keep them afloat. While economics is certainly a complex subject in which even the so-called experts can’t predict accurately, many economists are warning about a looming depression brought on by numerous factors, from the destruction of business over the past year to runaway inflation to the workforce shortages we’re now seeing due to the welfare state that the Biden administration has happily implemented in the name of “curing poverty.” (Note: The “War on Poverty” was launched by the government 60 years ago and it remains a quagmire with no end in sight).

During the Great Depression of the early 20th century, industries, businesses, and crops suffered economically. But humans were the ones that suffered the most, the ones that went through the toughest hardships. They went through starvation, physical and mental distress. It’s difficult to live with no money, or worse, with out being able to provide anything for your family. That’s what the Americans during this crisis had to go through.

People all over cities got laid off due to insufficient money to be paid. They lost their home, even evicted from them and left in the streets. People had no other choice but to sleep in parks, sewer pipes, or wrapped in newspaper to keep warm. Others were able to build some what of a shack out of scrap material. Soon enough so many people did so that they became to be known as shanty-towns or  “Hoovervilles”. Acquiring food was a difficult task. Many searched through garbage or even begged. Soon enough there were soup kitchens and bread lines, provided by charity organization and public agencies, to give them some sort of nutrition, but not before long lasting damage was done to both physical and mental health.

Now consider this: these hardships, which lasted through generations in some cases, were experienced by a population that was far more self-reliant than our own. It was not uncommon for families to grow their own food and live off the land. Thus, the effects of the Great Depression, while still reaching them, weren’t felt as strongly as those living in urban areas dependent upon industrialization for survival. Modern Americans have a far higher percentage of people who see food as something that simply comes from the grocery store. They lack basic survival skills and are at the complete mercy of the modern economy.

A Great Depression in the 21st century would be far more catastrophic to the physical and mental health of Americans. We’re simply not built to survive it, and a dystopian future would almost certainly accompany such economic turmoil. Many of our cities are already becoming virtually uninhabitable as it is; just wait until their gravy train is halted.

The lesson to be learned here—for those with the integrity to acknowledge it—is that hiding from an especially nasty flu bug is far more harmful than accepting it as a fact of life and employing common sense mitigation measures. Lockdowns were always stupid, from day one. And slowly but surely, the intelligentsia are beginning to acknowledge as much. The dissenters are few and far between, as telling such truth takes courage. But as the facts come in, and the task of putting imaginary clothes on the emperor becomes untenable, more truth-tellers will enjoy their ranks.

The most dangerous virus was always a combination of fear, ignorance and mass hysteria. The only vaccine for such a virus is the conviction that no novel virus should bring America to a halt. “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” needs to mean something in order to avoid these situations in the future. May the spread of that American ideal provide herd immunity against the cowardice that got us here.

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treysoldier

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