A study of Ministry of Health data has shown that Covid19 lockdowns significantly increased mental distress in NZ children.
The study, published in the international Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, shows that attempted suicides in NZ children aged 10-14 years increased from a baseline of 40 per month to a peak of 90 per month following the lockdowns in 2020.
Lead researchers Dr Gerhard Sundborn and Professor Cameron Grant reviewed the last 5 years of monthly counts of hospital diagnoses for children aged 10–14 years from the Ministry of Health, with classification codes for parasuicide (attempted suicide) for all New Zealand. The data included counts from mid-2015 to the end of 2020.
Cases of parasuicide more than doubled and increased to a monthly high that was 125% higher than baseline levels.
A clear upward trend is observed in the latter half of 2020 from a stable baseline. The raw data found a sharp increase from base rates observed in August 2020 from a baseline of about 40 children per month to a peak of 90 cases. Rates subsequently declined, but not back to baseline.
The New Zealand experience reflects observations elsewhere. In Sydney it was reported that over 40 youth were rushed to hospital each day for deliberate self-harm during their recent 10+ week lockdown. This was a 47% increase from 2019.
Sundborn said the research showed there was a clear mental health cost to children from lockdowns.