Since the physical closure of universities in the face of the upsurge in the Covid-19 epidemic, isolation has caused increasing distress within the student community. Tuesday, a student from Lyon tried to defenestate herself, a few days after similar events, raising fears of a wave of suicide in front of the psychological distress.
Uneasiness in student residences. The government’s decision to keep universities closed to fight the spread of Covid-19 is causing growing discomfort among precarious students, isolated by distance learning and the lack of prospects. They are trying to make themselves heard by the government by rallying under the hashtag # StudentsFantoms.
A Lyon student threatened to defenestate Tuesday, January 12, before being quickly taken care of, a few days after the suicide attempt of another student in Villeurbanne (Lyon metropolitan area).
This incident, which takes place in a heavy health context for students, echoes the suicide attempt on Saturday in Villeurbanne of a law student who threw himself from the window of his university room. The circumstances of his action have not been communicated. The young man has been between life and death ever since.
As an L1 student in Law / Science-Politics at the University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, I can tell you that the situation is serious. Around us, broken glasses and bruised bodies. And you only talk about polls, when the facts are sadly littering the asphalt.
– Xavier Giraudon (@xavier_giraudon) January 13, 2021
One of his classmates, Romain Narbonnet, then reacted by posting a message on his Facebook page on the current isolation of the students.
>> See also on France 24: IT’S IN FRANCE – Generation Covid: students pay a high price
“Like any student, we are in social isolation […]. We stay 24/7 in our university rooms measuring the same dimensions as a prison cell, however with Wi-Fi. How much weight can a student take? ”He wondered. It is vital to keep schools open, but universities and students then seem secondary. We are then, let’s say it, left on the side of the road. “
# Ghost students to make themselves visible
The first years of the Faculty of Political Science wanted to make this distress visible. Earlier this week, they launched the hashtag # Ghostly Students on social networks to invite young people to share their unease or simply their frustration with the situation. An Instagram account has also been created to collect testimonials.
In an open letter addressed to the government, they denounce “the long speeches in which we are forced to play the role of the forgotten, the sacrificed” and calls for the reopening of universities to accommodate young people who can no longer take it.
The testimonies poured in quickly. More than 50,000 messages which call on their psychological distress, the precariousness they live and the isolation linked to the closure of faculties.
Stalls and depressions
“In the morning, I turn on the computer, but I am unable to follow the lessons. I have no more strength”, sighs Sarah, in engineering school in Lille. After months of distance learning, many students feel like she “flops”, worn out by loneliness and lack of prospects.
“Eight hours, alone behind a computer, it’s endless. Attention is lost, you feel completely lost”, testifies to AFP Sarah, 19, her voice tired after more than three months “without setting a foot In progress”.
Since the physical closure of his school in October in the face of the resurgence of the Covid-19 epidemic, his motivation has died down: “at the start, I was hanging on, I said to myself ‘it will not last’. But in December, it was ‘got too difficult, I really dropped out “.
In the first year and “locked in a 30 m²” with her boyfriend, the Lille girl suffers from isolation. “It is the most difficult, the lack of social bond with the others, the teachers. I do not even dress any more, I stay in my bed”, she breathes.
For other young people like Léa, in the second year of history in Angers, this “moral and physical exhaustion” has been going on since March , accompanied by financial difficulties.
“I had a waitress job, so as not to be a burden for my family. At the first confinement, everything stopped”, regrets Léa to AFP. Grant holder, it recently benefited from an aid of 150 euros, however insufficient. To pay her rent and “favor the purchase of school books”, she admits sometimes eating “only once a day”.
After having “held well for several months”, the young woman was finally “diagnosed with depression” before “giving up almost everything” during the winter. “It was the massacre […] half of the 220 students in my class have given up, ”she says.
“We lack prospects, there is the anguish of not finding internships, opportunities [avec cette crise]”, explains the student. A time interested in a career as a teacher, she now plans” a L3 pro, in apprenticeship “, to” find human contact “.
“Students are the big ones forgotten by the health crisis”
On Tuesday, the discomfort of young people in the face of the crisis and of students in particular was at the heart of a debate in the National Assembly where the member of La Réunion Karine Lebon (GDR) called on the Minister of Higher Education, Frédérique Vidal:
“The students are the big ones forgotten by the health crisis, whereas they must study in an incredible loneliness especially when they come from Overseas”, first recalled the deputy who added that “more than 50% of students [étaient] worried about their mental health and according to a Fage study conducted with Ipsos, 23% of students had thoughts of suicide “.
Karine Lebon (GDR) recalls the “suffering and isolation of young people, especially when they come from overseas”, while “the mental health of students has been neglected for many years” and asks the Gvt “to hear the anger and distress “of young people #DirectAN #QAG pic.twitter.com/9ZoRjdkQrz
– National Assembly (@AssembleeNat) January 12, 2021
Karine Lebon asked the government to stop “the continued decline in supervision rates, to curb the explosion of student poverty by guaranteeing in particular their financial autonomy and at least by paying scholarships over twelve months”. The member for Reunion also wanted “the meal for one euro to be served twice a day instead of one today”.
Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that he would receive representatives of the university community on Friday. A national day of mobilization is scheduled for January 20 to demand the reopening of universities.