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A new study conducted by the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that the US is seeing a significant rise in suicide attempts, especially among teenage girls. In May 2020, there was a rise in the number of adolescents aged 12 to 17 that were received in Emergency Rooms due to suicide attempts. This year, in the period between February and March, the average number of visits by adolescents in Emergency Rooms has risen by 50% weekly compared with the same period in 2019.

In North Macedonia, no research regarding the age groups and suicide attempts was done, but psychiatrists and psychologists agree that there are significant changes in the behaviors and emotions among youth. They were attending school online from their homes so the limiting of the number of social contacts to a minimum and the new way of life has often caused feelings of hopelessness and apathy. Out of the symptoms that the psychiatrists have stressed, sorrow, depressive thoughts, mood changes are present. They appeal for parents to monitor the behavior of their children so they can intervene on time and prevent deepening of the symptoms.

Dr. Miroslav Pendarovski, a university professor and psychologist, says its no surprise that the rate of reported and/or uncovered suicide attempts among the youngsters has increased during such a long, exhausting, unpredictable, and full of uncertainties crisis period caused by a mass phobia and stress called COVID-19.

-What causes a worry is the fact that it is widely spread among youth with an accent to the female population. The suicide reasons who have laid dormant long before the pandemic are now becoming more visible due to the fact that such an uncertain condition is acting as a trigger for the appearance of what has been waiting for a favorable moment and in this case, these are suicidal ideas and drives. This means that the reasons have always existed, but during such long, arduous, and heavy periods of self-isolation, where the already present depression is also increasing among most people who have such suicidal thoughts, is allowing to remove all of the defense processes and such auto-destructive forces are surfacing and are beginning to manifest – said Pendarovski.

He assumes that with the social distancing, the feelings of loneliness and meaningless are increased among youth who have now only passed the threshold of endurance of such tendencies.

-It is interesting that a larger number of such tendencies were reported among girls which can be explained from various angles. Apparently, the female population, since the period of their upbringing have had bigger support in expressing their emotions and conditions aka this social and social-cultural support of the female emotionalism are allowing the girls more often to report their emotional problems. I would relate this with the research where the statements about suicidal tendencies were taken into account. Of course, there are individual and cultural differences that can be taken into account, but a large number of reasons lay in the characteristics that have interwoven in the upbringing process, the social roles that society imposes on us and many other reasons. More research is necessary in order to reveal the reasons and the causes of the rise of these numbers – said Pendarovski.

Other reasons lay in the fact of self-alienation both on an individual and social level especially among the new generations that, according to Pendarovski, are literally making a jump from their mother’s womb in front of a computer. These are growing up in an accepted condition of normality of social isolation i.e. withdrawal in their own world and an enormous decrease in all types of social, emotional and physical communication.

-Virtual reality is taking its toll and it is an issue that will become a priority in all scientific circles. These conditions are completely replacing the world of values among the young and in return, it is causing a sense of loneliness and depression which is the main reason in most of the cases of suicidal thoughts and tendencies – said the professor.

Even though in our country no detailed research was ever conducted, still there is a trend of rising numbers of people experiencing psychological problems and asking for help. Therefore, the Psychiatry Clinic has opened several telephone lines where parents of children at pre-school and school-age can ask for help (072 912 676), adolescents (078 378 728), and also parents of children with special educational needs can ask for psychological support (070 291 574).

-The number of neurotic fears has risen and most of the patients experience depressive – obsessive symptoms. That doesn’t mean they should immediately be medicated but these issues can be solved with psychotherapy. All ages are affected. We have educational programs for parents who contact us, who are seeking advice about how to deal with their children. These programs were organized with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF – said Stojan Bajraktarov, the Director of the Psychiatry Clinic.