A recent report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) revealed a substantial increase in emergency room visits related to suicide attempts during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among teenagers between 12 and 17 years old.
During 2020, the number of adolescents visiting an emergency department for mental health-related visits increased by 31 percent compared with 2019. Visits for suspected suicide attempts by teenage girls rose 51 percent, while the number of teen boys increased 3.7 percent.
New @CDCMMWR: Emergency department visits for suspected #suicide attempts among US adolescent girls ages 12-17 rose 51% b/t Feb 21–Mar 20, 2021 during the #COVID19 pandemic, compared w/ the same time in 2019. More: https://t.co/OQ8wAQ8IwT. pic.twitter.com/zaS3UhQvpD
— CDC (@CDCgov) June 11, 2021
Last summer, the average number of weekly emergency visits that were associated with suicidal tendencies was 22.3 percent higher than during the summer of 2019.
And as winter 2021 approached, hospital visits rose by 39.1 percent in comparison to the previous year.
Researchers of the study did not explain why girls were impacted more than boys.
"The findings from this study suggest more severe distress among young females than has been identified in previous reports during the pandemic, reinforcing the need for increased attention to, and prevention for, this population," they wrote.
But, some experts link the spike in adolescent suicide attempts to the negative effects of isolation and lockdowns.
Dr. Jeanne Noble, the UCSF Emergency Department's COVID Response director, believes school closures attributed to teens suffering from a decline in emotional health.
"The medical evidence is clear that keeping public schools closed is catalyzing a mental health crisis among school-aged children in San Francisco," explained Dr. Noble.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued the city's school district in February over the emotional and mental harm from prolonged distance learning.
Richard Lieberman, head of the suicide prevention unit for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said he anticipated harmful consequences from the confinement and restrictions.
"As COVID descended upon the nation and we moved to remote learning, I could just see the components of the storm brewing," he noted.
Lieberman added, "I am the eternal optimist. I'm hopeful that kids are resilient and they can get better."
If you or someone you know needs help call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255.
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