“Every day in our country a girl or a boy, adolescent, but also pre-adolescent, attempts suicide. The increase in cases in the last two years is 75%. And there are 100,000 very young people who have taken the path of social death, the so-called hikikomori, isolated in their room, fleeing interaction with the world, overwhelmed by fear of judgement, alone. These are impressive numbers, from post-Covid-19 fallout”. The alarm was sounded by the president of the Italian Federation of Pediatricians (FIMP), Antonio D’Avino, on the occasion of the national Congress of the FIMP which took place in Riva del Garda in recent days.
“The pandemic has been an atomic bomb from a social point of view for the very young”, explains Silvia Zecca, national co-referee for the Fimp Group ‘Abuse and maltreatment of minors’. “The total lockdowns, the subsequent restrictive measures, the constant distancing measures for the prevention of contagion, have contributed to creating a very strong discomfort, a silent scream that we became aware of in our studies and then with the data collected in the emergency rooms.
In 2018-2019, the ‘Bambino Gesù’ pediatric hospital in Rome detected 464 accesses for suicidal ideation, suicide attempt and self-harm. In 2020-21 they went to 752, an increase of more than 60%”.
“The number of neuropsychiatric consultations requested for depressive or anxious states – adds Anna Latino, national Fimp co-referee of the same Group – has increased by 11 times. In particular, urgent consultations for suicidal ideation, attempted suicide and self-harming behavior in young people aged between 9 and 17 increased by almost 40 times”. According to Latino, the phenomenon is therefore increasingly connected to the activity of the family pediatrician, “protagonist of necessary training and information for parents and their children”.
The phenomenon of the so-called hikikomori will also be discussed at the Fimp Congress. “It is a drive to physical isolation, which continues over time, which is triggered as a reaction to the excessive pressures of social realization, typical of economically developed capitalist societies”, explains Marco Crepaldi, psychologist, president and founder of Hikikomori Italia. “The data we have speak of 87% of men, but it is probable that the number of women involved is underestimated”. The average age in which the first evident signs appear is around 15 years of age.