No matter how smart or well-intentioned central planners are, they can’t possibly understand all the implications of the choices they’re making.

When policymakers across the country decided to “lock down” in response to the March outbreak of the novel coronavirus, they took a leap into the unknown. Not only did we know little about COVID-19 itself at that time, but we knew almost nothing about how shutting down nearly all of society would affect people.

Policymakers focused on their models predicting how lockdowns could help limit the spread of COVID-19; an important factor, to be sure. So, too, many acknowledged the negative economic ramifications of lockdowns. But in the months since, we’ve seen many other dire consequences stem from the unprecedented shutdown of society.

Future public health policy should take these four life-threatening unintended consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns into account.

Even the most fortunate among us felt the emotional strain from months behind closed doors. Being cut off from friends, family, and many of the other things that give life meaning has proved too much for many of those who were already struggling.

As Managing Editor Jon Militmore has detailed, the Centers for Disease Control found that one in four young people have had suicidal thoughts during the pandemic to date. (For comparison, less than six percent of young people harbored similar thoughts in 2008-2009 according to older CDC data). And more than 40 percent of respondents said the crisis had prompted mental health or behavioral problems. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that suicidality increased during lockdown.

Given that young people without preconditions are at almost zero risk of death from COVID-19 and the well-documented deleterious effects of social isolation, it’s…

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