by UnHerd
Monday, 2
November 2020

The dark side of lockdown

A rise in suicides highlights the wider impact of the pandemic on society
by UnHerd

When it comes to human life, the very idea of a cost-benefit analysis strikes us obscene. Isn’t every life of infinite worth?

Yes — but that doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility for making difficult decisions. For instance, we can’t point to the lives saved through lockdown measures without also taking into account the downsides — because those can be measured in lives too.

There was a grim reminder of that last week in a tweet from the London Ambulance Service:

To be clear, there’s no direct claim here that these numbers are explained by the stresses of lockdown or the wider impacts of the Covid crisis. But it’s hardly unreasonable to come to that conclusion, and with lockdown coming into effect on Thursday, it’s worth taking note. While the constraints we’ve placed on everyday life may be necessary, they carry costs that go to the heart of who are.

Of course, there are few simplicities when it comes to the mental health of an entire population. For instance, the psychologist Jean Twenge highlights the remarkable resilience of (American) teenagers during the Covid crisis. Indeed, in respect to depression and loneliness the situation appears to have improved this year — and that’s against a longer-term trend of deteriorating teenage mental health. For teenagers, at least, lockdown may have some compensations — like spending more time with family.

There is a reminder here that while we need to get back to normal, we should also think about what ‘normal’ ought to be. ‘Building back better’ isn’t just about infrastructure.

Join the discussion

  • Why are we hearing so little about this? What and why are these numbers not being reported and why are we not all crying from the rooftops? We hear so much about the at risk groups from covid, we all know who is at high risk what the risk factors are etc… Why the hell are we not talking about those at risk of suicide? It could be your friend, neighbour, grandad for Pete’s sake! Do their lives not matter also!!!!

  • You are not hearing about this because the authorities and the media are now working as one to ensure that you do not hear about it.

    We live in decidedly evil times characterised by politicians whose craving for power is matched only by their incompetence, and a media that has abandoned almost all pretence to proper journalistic methods and principles.

  • Because we don’t matter, those of us who are lonely, whose livelihoods have disappeared, whose only human contact is with masked strangers. We are collateral damage. Those who are in comfortable domestic circumstances have decided that our savage hell is worth it for their families to be Safe and evidently Never Die.

  • To get involved in the discussion and stay up to date, become a registered user.

    It's simple, quick and free.

    Sign me up