The great distress of young French people

The tragedy of Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) during which a student stabbed his teacher, highlights, once again, the terrible suffering of children and adolescents.

They suffer more and more, often in silence. The deterioration of the mental health of young people is expressed by a malaise that has consequences on their everyday life and on their health status. The health crisis linked to Covid-19 and the two resulting confinements have had major collateral effects on the psychological health of young people. According to Inserm researchers, 13% of children aged 8 to 9 suffer from socio-emotional disorders as a result of the confinement.
The 16-year-old student suspected of stabbing his Spanish teacher in Saint-Jean-de-Luz was being treated after a suicide attempt. He would have heard a voice asking him to commit suicide.

Dark thoughts

The three main symptoms revealed in the students were anxiety, depression and stress. In July 2022, a survey by the CSA institute for the LMDE mutual insurance company indicated that 70% of French students were in a state of malaise. Worried about their own fate, worried about the future of society, they show signs of depression, even suicidal thoughts. The causes would be due to their financial difficulties and to the impact of the health crisis.
But it is not only the anxiety related to the health situation. The economic crisis, the difficulties of their parents in everyday life, the uncertainties about the future, the convulsions of the world make more and more young people have dark thoughts. With nearly 9200 deaths by suicide each year (including 400 adolescents), France has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. This represents three times more than road accidents! To this figure, we must add approximately 200,000 attempted suicides, which are steadily increasing according to the National Suicide Observatory.
A study by the ARS Pays-de-Loire in January 2022 shows that 16.6% of 17 year olds have a moderate to severe depressive syndrome. And that the annual rates of hospitalization for suicide attempts are higher among girls than boys.

“Biological Scars”

In a remarkable book “Les maladies ne tombent peut-être pas du ciel” (Ed. Dunod) Cyril Tarquinio, professor of health psychology at the University of Lorraine, establishes a direct link between childhood trauma and adult illness. Indeed, the more a child/adolescent is confronted with serious and hurtful events, the more health problems he or she will have as an adult.
These events can be related to intra-family violence (divorces, for example), incest, psychological abuse, school harassment, war, terrorist attacks, etc., which cause stress, distress and psycho-traumatic shocks.
The effects are devastating for some individuals since they are written into our genes and leave “biological scars”. The body, whose immune system is weakened, will then find it more difficult to fight against external pathogenic aggressions.
This is why the malaise of children and adolescents should not be ignored. The future of all of us depends on it.