Emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts among girls have increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday.
The average weekly number of visits for suspected suicide attempts among girls aged 12 to 17 was 50.6% higher last winter than compared to 2019 data for the same period, according to the CDC.
“The results of this study suggest more severe distress in young women than what has been identified in previous reports during the pandemic, reinforcing the need for increased attention and prevention for this population,” said the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Death by suicide:Suicide deaths declined during the height of the pandemic. Researchers have ideas why.
2 plinths. 5 months. 6 suicides. :A “heartbreaking problem” for the military in Alaska
Emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts initially declined for those aged 12 to 25 in March and April of last year, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and the implementation of the first foreclosure orders across the United States.
But from May, those numbers started to increase. The average weekly number of emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts among adolescents aged 12 to 17 was 22.3% higher during the summer of 2020 and 39.1% higher during the winter 2021 than during the corresponding periods in 2019, according to the report.
The gender divide is glaring. The average weekly number of emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts among girls was 26.2% higher in summer and 50% higher in winter. For boys aged 12 to 17, visits increased 3.7% in winter compared to the same period in 2019.
For the slightly older age group – those aged 18 to 25 – there was a 16.8% drop in emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts in spring 2020, according to the report. . However, that number subsequently increased and was higher throughout the pandemic compared to 2019, according to the report.
It is important to note that the increase in visits for suspected suicide attempts does not mean an increase in suicide deaths. In fact, preliminary mortality data revealed an overall decrease in the suicide rate from fall 2019 to fall 2020, according to the report. At the height of the pandemic, suicide deaths fell 9%, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
COVID-19 has created a crisis in child abuse:Lawmakers are now calling for more preventive measures
COVID-19 Updates:US nears 600,000 deaths as variants increase
The researchers did not study what is behind the increase in visits among girls, but they said the results are “consistent with previous research,” suggesting that self-reported suicide attempts are consistently higher among adolescent girls than among men and that young women have both higher and increasing visitation rates compared to men.
In general, researchers said young people may be “at high risk” as they may have been “particularly affected by mitigation measures” during the pandemic, such as a lack of connection with schools, teachers and peers. ; barriers to mental health treatment; increased substance use; and anxiety about family health and economic problems.
Rates of emergency room visits for mental health issues and suspected child abuse and neglect, which are risk factors for suicide attempts, also increased in 2020, according to the report.
It is also possible that by spending more time at home with young people, adults have become more aware of suicidal thoughts and behaviors and are more likely to take their children for help, according to the report.
In its analysis, the CDC used data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, which includes the majority of emergency services nationwide in 49 states – all but Hawaii – and the District of Columbia. Data on race and ethnicity were not available at the time the CDC conducted its analysis, the agency said. The report also did not provide information on people of other genders.
The researchers noted that the data could be inflated because it did not distinguish between initial visits and follow-up visits for the same event. At the same time, the data may underestimate the actual number of suicide attempts, as people with less severe injuries may have been less likely to seek emergency care during the pandemic, according to the report.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the United States National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) anytime, day or night, or have a chat. online. Crisis Text Line also provides free confidential 24/7 SMS support to people in crisis when they dial 741741.