Victoria's 'Shadow Pandemic' of mental health issues in kids

Leonardo Puglisi fact-checks the claims made about the impact of lockdowns on young people.

Right now in Victoria, debate is raging surrounding a so-called ‘shadow pandemic’ in the state & right across the nation - suicides supposedly rising as a result of lockdowns - and notably, in children.


According to the state's coroner, an aggregated monthly frequency from January 1, 2017 to July 2021 shows that numbers are lower than every other year listed on the table - sitting at 384.


Another table also shows the annual suicide frequency by age groups - the report does say that “while there may be quite substantial short-term fluctuations in suicide frequencies within particular groups, these usually even out over time.”


However, data from Kids Helpline released in June shows that emergency interventions to protect young Victorians from suicide and child abuse have risen by 184% over the past 6 months, with teens aged between 13-18 at the most risk.


Victoria's Chief Psychiatrist, Dr Neil Coventry, says "there's been a trend - very much predating COVID - of an increase in problems with mental health & wellbeing for young people."


At a recent COVID-19 press conference in NSW, Lifeline's Chairman John Brogden said that mental health issues are "a crisis."


Suicide Prevention Australia now reports that 1 in 4 Australia say they know someone who died by suicide during the past 12 months - that is the equivalent of 5 million people.


They say that according to the Federal Government’s Australian Institute of Health & Welfare: “While an individual’s reasons are personal and often complex, overall peaks and troughs in rates and numbers of deaths by suicide coincide - more or less - with social and economic events.”


Australia’s annual suicide rate of around 3,300 is currently more than 3 times that of deaths from COVID-19, which recently passed 1,000.


If you or anyone you know needs help - contact Lifeline at 13 11 14, or Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800.