Big Rise in Suicide Attempts by U.S. Teen Girls During Pandemic – Consumer Health NewsJune 11, 2021
FRIDAY, June 11, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The suicide attempt rate has leapt by as much as half among teenage girls during the coronavirus pandemic, a new government study shows.
Emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts among girls between the ages of 12 and 17 increased by 26% during summer 2020 and by 50% during winter 2021, compared with the same periods in 2019, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. However, ER trips related to suspected suicide attempts among boys that same age and young adults aged 18 to 25 remained stable during the pandemic.
“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,” concluded the report published June 11 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The trend is consistent with past studies, the researchers noted.
“We are all at some degree of risk for mental health problems like depression and anxiety – and what elicits that underlying risk are often external variables: substances, trauma, illness or even medications, among others,” said Dr. Timothy Sullivan, chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University Hospital, in New York City.
“But one of the most robust findings in the last 30 years of research on mood disorders is that disturbances in our social rhythms significantly increase the risk – even predict – the development of major depressive episodes,” Sullivan said.
“This is why mental health experts have been concerned about the accumulating emotional burden caused by the effects of the pandemic on our habits and social interactions, and especially for children and adolescents for whom social interactions and peer involvement are crucial both for their healthy development and their emotional well-being,” added Sullivan, who was not involved in the study.
Self-reported suicide attempts are consistently higher among teen girls than boys, and research prior to the pandemic indicated that girls had higher and increasing rates of emergency department visits related to suicide attempts than boys, the CDC scientists noted.
Young girls might have been more affected by the pandemic due to lockdowns that broke their connectedness to schools, teachers and friends, the study speculated.
During the pandemic, people also have had a harder time seeking mental health treatment, there have been reported increases in substance abuse, and families have been beset by health concerns and financial problems.
But it also might be that, stuck at home with their kids, parents have become more in touch and aware of their teen girls’ troubling thoughts.
The researchers noted a 31% increase in the proportion of mental health-related emergency department visits that occurred among teenagers in 2020, compared with the year before.
At the same time, there’s been no significant…