Pandemic increases suicidality


A recent CDC study suggests that the pandemic has caused poor mental health for students.

PNC’s Devin Eligio has more…

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The island has seen 40 deaths in 2020. The most recent data available showed us that from January to July 2021, Guam has mourned over 18 suicide-related deaths.

In a proclamation signing for National Suicide Prevention Month last year September, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said, “Guam’s suicide rates continue to be significantly higher than the U.S. Mainland.”

According to last year’s Recovery Month proclamation, about 25,000 people in Guam are affected by mental health disorders.

Recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey for the United States between January and June of 2021 gave insight into the impact the pandemic has had on youths’ mental health and wellbeing.

Simon Sanchez Class of 2020 Alumni Matt Zapata briefly shared his feelings about the pandemic abruptly canceled his senior year, saying “At the time I was very school-oriented. I would always try to do my best in school. I was very involved in extracurriculars, Student Body Council. And when schools closed, I was at home. I just didn’t know what to do.”

Zapata adds, “I remember, at the time, feeling pretty sad, cause yknow it’s my senior year. There was a lot of stuff I was looking forward to; our senior trip to Japan, graduating in the Field Center; and just ending the year with my friends and my entire class on the last day of school.”

He also shared that the time at home amidst the pandemic allowed him to explore new hobbies and interests.

The ABES study found that students who had close relationships in school had a lower prevalence of “poor mental health” throughout the pandemic as compared to those who did not feel close to others at school.

Close to 40% of high school students surveyed reported having experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, 20% of these students stated they seriously considered suicide, and 9% reported attempting suicide.

The research suggested that the connectedness of a student to their school was a factor in the students’ mental health.

With Guam’s suicide rate still in alarmingly high numbers as compared to the United States, efforts on the island have been made to address mental health issues.

Counseling programs such as Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center’s i’Famagu’on-ta and WestCare Pacific Islands are among the programs that aim to help those seeking mental health wellness services.

The public is encouraged to call Guam Behavioral Health’s hotline at 671-647-8833 or 671-647-8834 if they are concerned for themselves or a loved one or to call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Otherwise, the public is encouraged to seek professional help if they have concerns over their mental wellbeing.

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Michael brings 30+ years of broadcasting experience to the Pacific News Center team. Michael is an avid amateur meteorologist with a passion for tropical weather. Michael also enjoys peering at the stars on a quiet night, having an interest in astromony as well. Michael loves to play golf and enjoy quiet time contemplating the mysteries of the universe. Michael origially hails from Houston, Texas.