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Teenagers, cases of attempted suicide increased by 75%

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Teenagers, cases of attempted suicide increased by 75%

Even one can be a mind-boggling number when it comes to an adolescent or pre-adolescent attempting suicide. One a day to be precise, just by looking within the borders of our country. And multiplying one by 365 shows a 75% increase in cases compared to just two years ago. Not only that: “There are 100 thousand very young people who have taken the path of social death, the so-called hikikomori, isolated in their room, fleeing from interaction with the world, overwhelmed by the fear of judgment, alone”, says Antonio D’Avino, president of the Italian Federation of Paediatricians (FIMP) during the second day of the sixteenth National Scientific Congress of family pediatricians, taking place in Riva del Garda.

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A silent scream

Blame the pandemic? Many specialists argue that it played a decisive role. “An atomic bomb from a social point of view for the very young”, defines Silvia Zecca, national co-referent FIMP Group Abuse and maltreatment of minors. All the more or less drastic measures of social distancing aimed at preventing contagion would have contributed, according to Zecca, to create a situation of great discomfort, “a silent scream that we noticed in our studies and from the data collected in the emergency room”.

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Requests for help increased by 40x

And it is not only the increase in the number of requests for neuropsychiatric consultations for anxious or depressive states and those carried out in urgency for attempted suicide and self-injurious behaviors that makes your head spin, but also the age group concerned, as Anna Latino points out, co-referent of the working group: “The requests have risen almost 40 times, especially among young people between 9 and 17 years old. We want to emphasize the gap that concerns the age of these cases: ever wider ”. The Family Pediatrician is therefore a reference for parents and children.

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The social isolation of the hikikomori

The phenomenon of hikikomori would also affect boys and girls belonging to this age group, with the first signs that would appear starting from an average age of 15 years. “It is – explains Marco Crepaldi, psychologist and founding president of Hikikomori Italia – of a drive towards physical isolation, continuous over time, which is triggered as a reaction to the excessive pressures of social realization, typical of economically developed capitalist societies”. A phenomenon that would seem to mainly affect males, even if, according to Crepaldi, the number of females involved could be underestimated. The duration of this social retreat tends to extend beyond three years and there are two phases identified: the first characterized by the abandonment of school and the removal of almost all direct social contacts, except those with close family members; the second is characterized by the estrangement even of the parents and also by the avoidance of virtual relationships. This second stage, Crepaldi continues, concerns only a minority of the population, which has probably developed some form of psychopathological associated with withdrawal. The expert points out that Internet addiction does not seem to be the cause of the discomfort, but rather an effect and is also the only form of interaction accepted during this form of isolation. “Relational fragility – he continues – is very difficult to deal with. It is triggered when we feel pressed into a race for personal success, whether it be school, sport, sexuality “. The abuse of social media and the importance, especially for the youngest, of receiving positive feedback regarding their image, is certainly a central theme. “Whoever gives up wins” – says the expert – “but the hikikomori don’t know it”.

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The role of the family pediatrician

Other delicate and complex issues are those of bereavement in the family context and the path that accompanies the decision to change sex. Themes that “knock on the door of our studies more and more often and that we do not want to evade”, says D’Avino: “The family pediatrician is in fact the first sentinel able to intercept the discomfort and should therefore have all the cognitive tools available. necessary to be able to accompany and support their patients during the transition to adulthood. It is necessary – concludes the doctor – to implement specific policies for childhood and adolescence, which involve all the actors that contribute to the mental health of young people, such as child neuropsychiatrists, psychiatrists, psychologists, educational services and representatives of the third sector “.

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