Is Spain doing enough for adolescents’ mental health?

The attempted suicide of two 12-year-old twins in the town of Sallent in Catalonia — presumably as a result of bullying — has shocked Spain. One of the children died and the other was seriously injured after jumping from a third-floor apartment. Authorities have reported a surge in suicides since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. For commentators, the case highlights the growing problem of mental illness among Spain’s adolescents.

El País (ES) /

Girls in particular are affected

El País calls for more prevention:

“One aspect in particular should be focused on: the fact that there are far more cases of suicide attempts, self-harm and other expressions of emotional distress among girls than among boys. Catalan counselling centres have found that suicide attempts among girls have increased by 195 percent since the pandemic and are three times higher than among boys. ... The authorities have started to take certain measures, but it is clear that the prevention and mental health services are overwhelmed. Unless more drastic action is taken, the risk of tragic decisions among our adolescents will remain disproportionately high.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Don’t put all the responsibility on the health system

El Periódico de Catalunya stresses that changes in society are also needed:

“Some have discovered this problem in the course of the investigation into the case of the twins in Sallent. ... The police are urging caution because the reality of this family was very complex. ... It is clear that we are suffering from an epidemic of mental illness among young people, and that our health system is not equipped to deal with it. But it is also true that medical care should be the last resort, and there are many ways to intervene before that, from cultural aspects and education in the family and at schools to leisure activities. ... Yes, we need more public resources. But we also need many other things that do not depend on the administrations.”

Albert Sáez