The whole world has been fighting the Chinese coronavirus since last March. We’ve won a few battles, but unfortunately the whole war still doesn’t know the winner. Almost seventeen thousand people have succumbed to Covid-19-related diseases in the Czech Republic, but is the coronavirus pandemic really the fearsome killer presented in the Czech media?
There are two sides to every coin. There is a need to completely trust experienced emergency managers who can predict crisis scenarios for the development of a pandemic in all directions – not just health ones, but also, on the same level, economic ones. And so, while Czech media continues to scare readers with the daily increasing death rates of Covid-19, almost nowhere do you read that, due to most government restrictions, the rate of depression in Czech society has increased by 400% (source: CNN Prima News) or that depression with suicidal tendencies has increased by 300% (source: NUDZ). What the true ratio of suicide to trial phase is, the National Institute of Mental Health (NUDZ) is reluctant to say, despite having promised to do so for the extreme start of this year.
Around 1,300 suicides are committed each year in the Czech Republic, a significant European excess (source: NUDZ). If we consider that the predicted increase is up to three hundred percent, according to NUDZ, we get to an annual figure of almost 4,000 suicide victims in a single year in the Czech Republic. Does that seem scary to you?
It’s scary. We know the causes and we can name them. In the first place, the major cause of the depressed state of the Czech population is almost all the domestic media, which are literally racing to create fear and worry among the population in public space. It should be noted that it is partly the Czechs themselves who are responsible for this state of affairs. According to available statistics, up to 43% of the literate population only read clickbait article headings and never look at the inside of the context. Only a handful of the population (of the order of lower percentage units) then verify the veracity of this information. How “sensational” headlines are made in news doesn’t need to be broken down, perhaps some other time.
Another equally important aspect of the emergence of depression associated with suicidal tendencies is the very significant humiliation of household financial income and the resulting fear for the family’s own existence and survival. It is not the fact that an entrepreneur will skip one of the vacations this year, as you will often read in social media comments from many graduates of the University of Life who have their place “at the beltway.” Here we are talking about real survival. The state banned legitimate businesses and abolished their livelihood. Thus, people who were never dependent on our state and supported the Czech economy with their diligence, paying their employees wages and compulsory contributions, suddenly found themselves often without income. Regardless of this sad situation, traders still run contracts and the resulting mandatory monthly payments for energy, rents, apartments, houses, leases, supply contracts. Suddenly, these responsible people are in a situation where they have used up almost all their reserves, have no money for basic fees, and banks, no longer obliged to defer loan and mortgage repayments, are imposing large-scale court executions on sole traders and entering them in all sorts of negative registers. All of this leads to necessary KPZ-style savings, layoffs of long-time loyal employees, and increases in depressions among other sections of the population. Where is the justice? The current poor state of mental health of these people is in most cases perfectly understandable.
Social isolation has also been the third pillar of growth in the worst depressions of the last year. Most of the population has been associated for almost a year, lacking any of the psychologically and physiologically positive elements of life: meeting friends, going to lunch, having fun at the music in the evening, going to the local gym every morning, playing hockey with friends, going to the theater for a show, a nice movie at the movies. People don’t move, kids don’t move. The Czechs gained an average of 7 kg in weight. Looking in the mirror, we can subsequently talk about increasing the rate of depression. Nobody wants to look like a sleeping pug. The older population is likely to argue that these are merely the whims of the times, primarily among young people. Here we would like to pause with a raised warning finger. It is the population group aged 20-45 that is the most affected by the rise in suicidal depression. Do you know what is subsequently threatened? We’re talking about a population group that’s supposed to be delivering a psychically positive message to the next generation. A group to be the economic engine of the state. The group to motivate teens to be better, more caring.
What follows from the text above? After long isolation, a significant majority of people begin to seek out their passions again, despite their temporary illegality. As a result, there are increasing headlines about police raiding an illegal party in a private apartment or an open restaurant in violation of government regulations. In fact, we’d like to make one practical and thematic comparison right now. After all, the entertainment segment of casinos, where more than 90% of people go for entertainment, still operates, and yet cheap and stupid populism continues to grow, in the sense of, “Shut down gambling because it hurts!” or “Cancel alcohol because it destroys families!” No, it doesn’t! No harm in casinos or restaurants. It’s self-harming to stupid people who can’t control the acquired freedom in their own heads, becoming alcoholics, gamblers, junkies. We live in a free age, so let’s treasure it and learn to work with it, even in a context other than just shouting stupid things on social networks. Do you understand what’s going on here?
Along with the growing depressions caused by said media intimidation, fears about economic existence or social isolation, alcohol consumption is also rising. However, according to the current results of the Czech Statistical Office, it would seem that there has been a slight decrease in the order of lower units of percent. Make no mistake. Alcohol consumption is always calculated from the purchased litre, by all consumers in the Czech Republic (restaurants, shops, service stations, etc.). If we see a significant statistical drop in tourism caused by raids by British, Irish, German or Scandinavian tourists, we are seeing a rapid increase in alcohol consumption in Czech households. According to the available NUDZ analysis, this leads to an increase in male domestic violence and female rage.
The special area where depression flourishes is education. Are you aware that the proportion of depression with suicidal tendencies also affects schoolchildren? Closed schools and the impossibility of playing sports are beginning to have a very negative impact on the physical and psychological health of children. Some pupils and students have not been in school for almost a year, so they are beginning to decay in all directions. The Ministry of Education argues that distance learning is going well beyond expectations and that if they do not manage home-schooling somewhere, it is the fault of the school or even the family. Hand on heart – do you know what an IT background is like in offices? Have you ever noticed what kind of computer the clerk uses and in what way? It’s the same in education. The IT literacy of the elderly Czech teaching staff is able to generate an average of 1.5 teaching hours per day in most cases. Literally shocking is the finding of the organisation Troubled Man, which has defined up to 20% of socially disadvantaged pupils with no connection to school. Can our future generation really be educated this way? Nobody and nothing can replace attendance at children’s schools. This is a proven fact by centuries. Parents are not qualified teachers, so in most cases they are unable to properly explain the vast amount of substance discussed to their offspring. Thus, the rate of depression caused by self-underestimate, substance misunderstanding, social isolation and, last but not least, cyberbullying from more gifted and better-resourced classmates is growing significantly among children. In Las Vegas, cases of children jumping out of windows are proliferating for just the above reasons (source: CNN).
And what does the government say about this state of affairs? It set up a special group, The Impact of Covid on Mental Health, at the start of the pandemic, which also includes 24/7 online counselling, falling proportionally (by aid segment) under the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Health. Are you familiar with it? It has only reported on this group in the media once, at the end of March 2020. The most affected group with an excessive risk of mental illness are entrepreneurs and their employees in the affected industries (restaurants, hotels, tourism, entertainment) and especially pupils and students. And we ask, will online psychological counseling really help all of these people? According to official research by the Swedish Institute of Mental Illness, suicide prevention only works for women who like to talk and can talk their way out of their problems. For men, said prevention hardly works at all. The man is silent, accumulating all the negative thoughts in himself, then one day he goes and just “does it.” There have been more and more reasons in the last year, and the frequency of these cases is not decreasing, quite the opposite. Can we prevent the rising number of suicides and depressions by better strategic planning and a fair distribution of compensation bonuses from state aid? Why are some employees at home with 100% of their income, why do some have to go to work on reduced wages or without pay at all? Why do some people take 100% compensation, and why do some achieve next to nothing, go bankrupt, taking their employees, friends, and family with them?
If there’s anything we can do to improve the mental health of the population, let’s do it. Please, let us stop the senseless lockdowns and the constant restrictions on people’s freedom. Those who fear for themselves and their loved ones, stay home and draw all the necessary compensation and rewards for their “responsibility”! Those who want to work should work, with the necessary restrictions in the form of government recommendations, of course. We are a reasonable people. If the government chooses diplomacy, I’m sure we’ll agree. These strict bans and regulations are going nowhere.
We are Rebuy Stars
National Institute of Mental Health (NUDZ) / PhDr. Petr Winkler, Prof. Ing. Cyril Höschl, DrSc.
Czech Statistical Office (CSO) / data collection
Organization Man in Trouble / Zuzana Ramajzlova
Children’s Ambulance and Pediatrics Brno / MUDr. Tamara Polackova
Paediatric Clinic FN Motol / Prof. MUDr. Jan Lebl, CsC.
Echo24, DVTV, CNN Prima News, Seznam Zpravy, News.com, Seznam Televize