COVID-19 emergency: social distancing and social exclusion as risks for suicide ideation and attempts in adolescents
Claudio Longobardi; Rosalba Morese; Matteo Angelo Fabris
Published: November 2020
Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic, and Italy was among the nations most affected, with more than 29,000 victims. Measures to counter the progression of the epidemic have forced a review and reformulation of the day-to-day activities of the affected populations, necessitating restrictive measures such as social distancing and quarantine. Several studies have hypothesized that quarantine could have a negative psychological impact on the population. Studies have shown that quarantine leads to a decrease in positive emotions and an increase in negative emotions, such as anger and fear. The experience of quarantine tends to correlate with decreased psychological well-being and the onset of psychological symptoms and emotional disorders, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and post-traumatic symptoms. Factors such as the quarantine duration, the uncertainty of information, and the fear of being infected or of the infection of loved ones appear to be factors that increase distress. In addition, the loss of routine and confinement, which causes a drastic reduction in physical and social contact with others, can increase the sense of isolation and loneliness, resulting in psychological distress. The literature has focused mainly on the psychological well-being of adults and health professionals, and not on adolescent well-being, and, in particular, the risk of suicidal ideation. Suicide is estimated to be the world's second leading cause of death among adolescents, and suicidal ideation, which contributes to the risk of committing suicide, is at its peak in adolescence.