"Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood." –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Youth suicides are increasing at an alarming pace

Suicide death rates among teenagers and young adults have increased at an alarming pace in the past decade. While suicide has steadily become more common across the population, the increase among youths has outpaced all other age groups. For many years, suicide among youths was relatively rare and its frequency relatively stable. Suicide has become the second-most common cause of death among teenagers and young adults, overtaking homicides and outpaced only by accidents. Just looking at these numbers, it’s hard not to find them completely disturbing. It should be a call to action. If you had kids suddenly dying at these rates from a new disease or infection, there would be a huge outcry. But most people don’t even know this is happening. It’s not recognised for the public health crisis it has become. The sharp increase in youth suicides has frustrated and puzzled researchers, who have struggled to explain its causes. Some have attributed it to changing social structures, lack of community and the rise of social media and smartphones. Others have pointed to bullying and less sleep. Many studies, for example, have explored the ways social media might exacerbate depression and stress in teenagers. But at the same time, other studies have shown social media to be a positive force – reaching isolated individuals and creating social connections that didn’t exist before. The Internet may have made it easier to research lethal ways of killing oneself. But at the same time, it has made resources such as suicide prevention hotlines and text and chat programmes more readily available than ever. If you asked 10 years ago, no one would have known where to call when they’re in a crisis. The truth is anyone who says they definitively know what is causing it doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It’s a complex problem with no easy answers so far.

Samiya Talal,

Coronavirus hasn't gone away. So why are people acting as if it has?

As the lockdown has been lifted and the markets and malls and cinema halls and diners have opened their doors to customers once again, things feel almost back to normal. Shops have opened, the traffic has resumed its flow, people blast music from cars, groups of people sit in parks, sharing crisps. Am I mad, I wonder, to still feel nervous? What we are left with are people living in two parallel universes. In one, there are people who – knowing that the virus has not gone away – feel gaslit by the fact that things are opening up when there is absolutely no scientific reason for that to be happening. Because of this, it feels almost as though we are going mad. And then there is the other universe. In that universe, the sun is shining, and the worst is over. It looks nice, this universe. I don’t begrudge these people at all. Maybe they think that the worst really is over, or maybe it is just their way of coping. Maybe they feel less at risk. There have always been those sorts of people who feel like things ultimately will always be okay, as opposed to the catastrophisers among us. Maybe, like all of us, they are just so sick of it now that they have made a conscious decision to just exhale and shake it off, and try to live. I don’t know how, or when, these two realities will merge. I suspect that the more cautious among us will gradually loosen up in time for a second wave of infection, but even then, I don’t think we will ever return to a full lockdown, now that the government has proved itself incapable – and unwilling – to maintain one.

Momina Anees,