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Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Thursday, April 16, 2020. The Chicago Cubs will use Wrigley Field as a food distribution hub to help support COVID-19 relief efforts. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

If hopelessness feels like it’s setting in, it’s not a fantasy borne of too much time shut away from other people behind a mask: according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a quarter of young adults have contemplated suicide during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The irony of a population of young people being driven to consider ending their lives because they’ve been asked to hide away from a virus that is unlikely to kill them is almost too much to comprehend. Yet that is apparently part of what the nation must grapple with even as debate continues to rage over whether children should return to schools, college-age athletes are told to abandon their dreams and leave the field, and one candidate for president suggest a nation-wide mask mandate should be in effect for the next three months (at the end of which is, incidentally, when the election will take place).

From Politico:

The toll is falling heaviest on young adults, caregivers, essential workers and minorities. While 10.7 percent of respondents overall reported considering suicide in the previous 30 days, 25.5 percent of those between 18 to 24 reported doing so. Almost 31 percent of self-reported unpaid caregivers and 22 percent of essential workers also said they harbored such thoughts. Hispanic and Black respondents similarly were well above the average.

Roughly 30.9 percent of respondents said they had symptoms of anxiety or depression. Roughly 26.3 respondents reported trauma and stress-related disorder because of the pandemic.

Another 13.3 percent of respondents said they have turned to substance use, including alcohol and prescription or illicit drugs, to cope with stress from the pandemic.

The data also indicates that young people developing symptoms of anxiety has tripled since this time last year.

Drug usage and overdoses are up nationally, as well.

In a report released July 8 by the San Diego-based laboratory Millennium Health, an analysis of 500,000 urine drug tests found that there was an increase in the national usage of four drugs: non-prescribed fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.

In short: lockdowns kill. It’s time to start assessing whether a prolonged one (presumably with a nationwide mask mandate) is worth the risk to the nation’s collective mental health.