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Richmond High School sign in the foreground with students milling about behind it on the street.

People of Richmond: Why do you think teens are so sad?

on November 25, 2023

“People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity.

Q: Why do you think chronic sadness is so prevalent among WCCUSD high school students?

“I’m a student athlete and I work. Sometimes I feel like I ignore my own feelings so I can get through the day.” (Alejandra, high school senior)

A man stands on a street with a parking garage in the background. He is in a black jacket, black cap, a black strap across his body.
Eddie Castro

“The environment is not safe, so definitely the schools aren’t safe and this makes the students depressed. I think we need to start by fixing our environment. That’s the first step to helping our kids.” (Eddie Castro, security guard)

“Well, with my personal experience, I feel like at one point, I thought to myself, ‘I’m depressed.’ But then as I matured, I started to realize that I wasn’t really depressed, I was just, I don’t know, I was influenced that I was. But it was all in my head, I feel like. Now looking back, I don’t see why I would have a reason to feel so depressed.” (Oscar, 10th grader )

A man in a puffy black jacket and black knit beanie smiles for the camera outside a gray house.
Marcus Mitchell

“All our tax money is not going to the right places. We should be putting more money in the schools. We used to have Little League baseball that was very active, but now it’s not as active as it used to be. The kids need extracurricular activities to keep them busy and happy. There is also much violence in the city. This violence extends to schools. So kids go to school in fear and this affects their mental health.” (Marcus Mitchell)

A man in a green workshirt with a city of Richmond badge over the left pocket and the name Jesus over the right stands in a park in a green cap, mustache and beard.
Jesus Beltran

“Maybe they don’t have friends or teammates.” (Jesus Beltran (code enforcement crew)

“Probably some people just think it’s bad to not have friends or they want attention or something. They just think about being sad. They don’t think about the good things like just waking up in the morning, or like, just at least going through the day with no problems.” (Kristian, 10th grader)

A person stands on very green grass, hands on hips, fedora, smiling in a decaled T-shirt that is not clear enough to make out and dark jeans.
Tina Silano

“Devices. Social media has a lot to do with it. Maybe their social life isn’t as busy compared to peers. I feel like the younger generation is on devices all the time.” (Tina Silano, entrepreneur)

A woman in cropped dark hair, wearing a blue Warriors T-shirt and long shorts smiles while standing on a sidewalk in front of a bench.
Yvonne Guyton-Johnson

“I’m not quite sure. My son does environmental research. He was saying lower income areas don’t have as much trees or greenery. If you’re walking where there’s blight, it’s going to give you a form of depression or get your spirits down.” (Yvonne Guyton-Johnson, real estate broker)

(Richmond Confidential identified students in this Q&A only by their first names.)

People of Richmond: Given the strike by Kaiser workers, would you cross a picket line to see a doctor?


  1. Ann Armstrong on November 25, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    Climate change , war, the possibility’s dictator will take over. Even having children is a fear. There are so many things pointing to a life ahead that we have left to them to deal with

  2. Jocelyn Ortega on November 26, 2023 at 5:41 am

    because the economy is stupid expensive that the parents are stressing on the daily not having time for their children and kids feel like it’s their fault or feel not loved.

  3. David Paez on November 28, 2023 at 11:07 am

    Spend our tax money where it matters, our schools, our communities, and resources for our youth. Expose the youth to something they can look forward to with an environment they can thrive in.

    Nurture the soil where plants grow.

  4. MMG on November 28, 2023 at 2:48 pm

    Electronic ‘communication’ is sapping our natural vibrations, soul energy, and the natural, innate inclination to be a social human being in real time, not a disembodied head and ego subjected to constant manipulation and triggers to the ‘reptile brain.’

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Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

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