Children’s National doctor says virtual learning causing spike in number of kids attempting to hurt themselves

Virtual learning combined with the stresses of the pandemic is causing some kids in the DMV to attempt to hurt themselves, according to Dr. Adelaide Robb at Children’s National Hospital. 

Robb said that the number of kids who have attempted or have thought about suicide has gone up since distance learning started this fall. 

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“We are having an increase in suicide attempts resulting in hospitalization and emergency room and admission both to the intensive care unit and to psychiatry,” said Robb.

The doctor said another factor is the pressure of doing well in school even when kids are physically not in the classroom.

“March through June when we started virtual learning across the region it was just to keep your grades the same and for make up work,” Robb explained. "We did not see a spike again in suicide and ER visits and admissions to psychiatry until August to September when virtual learning restarted but this time kids were getting graded."

Some parents like Debbie Rose of Loudoun County said Monday that they’re worried about their children’s mental health because they have no other choice but to learn online, combined with not being able to see their friends, leading to a feeling of isolation.

“We were shaving conversations we’ve never had before like, are you contemplating hurting yourself? What can I do to help you?” explained Rose. “I’m offering things you wouldn’t normally as parent-like, ‘I’ll let you have a hooky day, or I’ll take you to Hershey Park.” 

Bethany Koszelak, school psychologist for Fairfax County Public Schools told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan that the school system has always provided social and emotional learning. She said these days, before the start of virtual learning, most teachers are offering different ideas for students to gather socially which is known as ‘Classroom Meetings’ where kids are getting to talk to one another.

She said that many county schools have also brought back after school extracurricular activities that are being conducted virtually.