Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says teen girl suicide attempts increased drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study, published Friday, found that suspected suicide attempts among girls aged 12 to 17 went up by 50.6% between February 21 and March 20 of this year, compared to the same time period in 2019 before the pandemic. Suicide attempts among boys of the same age range also went up but by 3.7%.
“Self-reported suicide attempts are consistently higher among adolescent females than among males, and research before the COVID-19 pandemic indicated that young females had both higher and increasing rates of ED visits for suicide attempts compared with males,” researchers wrote in the study, suggesting this new data falls in line with previous research.
“However, 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,” the study continued.
To conduct the study, researchers examined emergency room visits between January 1, 2019, and May 15, 2021. Visits to the emergency room by adolescents, especially girls, across 49 states and Washington, DC, began to increase around May 2020, the researchers noted. After May 2020, the rates at which adolescent girls visited the ER continued to stay elevated.
“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, which are all risk factors for suicide,” researchers who conducted the CDC study wrote.