A new government health report indicates that emergency room visits resulting from suicide attempts spiked among both adolescent boys and girls during intense pandemic mitigation measures such as school closures and lockdowns.
According to a recent CDC report, emergency room mental health visits spiked by 31% among children aged 12-17 years old in 2020 compared to the previous year. Although the public health agency did not establish a direct cause, it gave a serious nod to lockdowns as a “risk factor for suicide.”
“Young persons might represent a group at high risk because they might have been particularly affected by mitigation measures, such as physical distancing (including a lack of connectedness to schools, teachers, and peers); barriers to mental health treatment; increases in substance use; and anxiety about family health and economic problems,” the report states.
The report analyzed data from 3,722 ERs across 49 states and Washington DC.
This tragic wave of suicide attempts began increasing to higher-than-normal levels in May of last year, but the greatest surge occurred as recently as this year—coinciding with the period of time before most states began to lift lockdown restrictions. Suicide-related ER visits among adolescent girls increased by 50.6% between February and March of 2021, while attempts among boys rose by 3.7% compared to 2019 data.
Suspected suicide attempts among girls last summer were 26.2% higher than the same period in 2019, the report noted, while suspected suicide attempts among boys increased by 10.8%.
The agency also noted limitations inherent in the study, suggesting that suicide data may even be underrepresented. The report stated that many people may have been hesitant to visit the hospital during the height of the pandemic, resulting in further cases that went unreported.
On the other hand, lockdowns forcing families to stay home may have caused an increase in seeking medical attention as parents were exposed to mental health struggles their children may have previously hidden.
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