LAS VEGAS, NEVADA—Schools are preparing to reopen amid growing concern over mental health of students in the US which is believed to have caused a surge in suicides since their closure last March.
Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, has logged 19 suicides, more than double the number that the district recorded all of last year (nine), according to the district’s press office.
Those who opposed school closures have brought to attention the sentiments of the families of victims, and have echoed mental health experts’ warnings on the effect on a child’s well-being.
While experts stressed that suicides can never be explained by a single cause, studies have shown that the pandemic heavily affected vulnerable sectors of society and that a spike in psychological disorders was observed during the pandemic’s resultant lockdowns.
“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,” said Clark County superintendent Jesus Jara, a supporter of school resumption. “We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They’ve got to start seeing some movement, some hope.”
Among the steps taken to preempt these cases was a program to identify at-risk students, which involved going through iPads given to students and scanning for keywords related to suicide or mental health. It produced over 3,100 alerts from June to October last year.
Las Vegas schools have been given the go-ahead to reopen, subject to health regulations, but no exact date has been set yet for their resumption.