I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic when I tell you that there’s more hard rain coming following the fallout of the pandemic and our government’s decisions for how to deal with it.
Consider this tragedy that happened in one of the towns in which Battle Born Media publishes a community newspaper. (I hope it hasn’t happened in yours, but I suspect there is a chance it did.)
An eighth-grader who had been out of public school for almost a year due to COVID restrictions, killed himself. His mother said he was lonely and increasingly despondent. And, as you can imagine in a small town, the loss and heartbreak reverberated through town, among teachers, parents and classmates.
Some took to social media to lay blame on the government’s stay-at-home orders and the failure of local schools to more rapidly respond to in-person learning. Blaming one factor in a situation like this is unfair, of course. But it does highlight a growing angst in every town in America.
Isolation stemming from government COVID-19 rules — the sustained shutdown of in-person school, the curtailing of in-person worship and restrictions of generational interaction — weighs on us in 2021. And statistics are beginning to show that thoughts of suicide, and actual suicides are on the rise.
A recent study found that “Significantly higher rates of suicide-related behaviors appear to have corresponded with times when COVID-19 stressors and community responses (e.g., stay-at-home orders and school closures) were heightened, indicating that youth experienced elevated distress during these periods.”
How elevated? Results showed suicidal thoughts were 1.60 and 1.45 times higher in March and July 2020, respectively, than in March and July 2019. Odds of recent suicide attempt were 1.58, 2.34, 1.75 and 1.77 times higher in February, March, April and July 2020 than the same months in 2019, respectively.
So, as far as I can see, the bottom line for public health deciders — from President Biden, Gov. Newsom and down the line — is for them to do better in bringing an end to the pandemic and make wiser decisions to alleviate the social and medical issues stemming from the pandemic.
But in the end, as every mom and dad out there knows, the best defense for our children rests not in Sacramento or in Washington, D.C., but in our own living rooms.
Watch your kids like a hawk. Give ‘em lots of love. And let’s get our schools open now.
COULD WE BUILD UNDERGROUND?
For anyone paying attention, there’s always been a tension between Marin County and California housing do-gooders.
The do-gooders want Marin to build high-density housing for the poor. Local folk want none of it, at least not in their part of the shire.
So, I have a modest proposal.
Why don’t we in Marin build high-density housing underground, out of sight, out of mind. That way the state social engineers will be happy and the above-grounders won’t have to see the high-density housing. And once developed, there’s no reason we couldn’t create a separate (but equal) school district for the undergrounders. Who’s with me?
(For the humor impaired, the above was written in a sarcastic typeface which is visible only to smart people.)
D.A.’s HATE FORUM
I thought District Attorney Lori Frugoli did a nice job in her recent hate forum. Her office has had to make some close calls recently. The Fairfax swastika case was an easy call, I thought. As disgusting as it was, it falls well within protected speech. She made the right call there.
As for the desecration of the St. Junipero Serra statue on church property in San Rafael, I’m not so sure. This protest was never planned to be “peaceful,” otherwise people would not have brought red paint and ropes to the protest. Clearly, some came with destruction in mind.
The question of whether they had hate in mind is a closer question, but by the D.A.’s own standards “if a hate incident starts to threaten a person or property, it may become a hate crime.”
Well, clearly the incident threatened church property. And many in the congregation took this act as a threat against their safe worship.
I think the D.A.’s office got this one wrong. But, like I say, these things are close calls. One thing for sure: These folks need to be convicted of felony vandalism and, at least, do some time behind bars. No fines, no slap on the wrist. Accountability is important, otherwise it will be open season on Catholic churches and the people who worship there.
ONE MORE THING
— I remember Drive-In movies. I don’t remember any of the movies.
— I don’t trust stairs. They are always up to something.
— What does a Thesaurus eat for breakfast? A synonym roll.
— I found this rare photograph of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones holding Betty White. You can thank me later.
With that, I’ll pick up my knitting and let myself out. Thanks for reading. Be safe, be kind and mask-up. You can subscribe to this newspaper and keep local journalism thriving by signing up on page 3A. It’s a good thing to do and we thank you for it.
(Sherman R. Frederick is the founder of Battle Born Media, a newspaper company dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. You can follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/sherm.frederick/. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)