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Emergency room visits for suspected teenage suicide attempts increased during pandemic, CDC study finds

There has been a significant increase in teenage emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts during the pandemic, according to a study released by the CDC on Friday.

The study, which drew on data from a survey of emergency departments in 49 states, found that after the first months of the pandemic, the number of emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts started to increase in adolescents aged 12 to 17, mainly by girls in this age group.

Between July 26 and August 22, 2020, the average weekly number of visits for girls aged 12 to 17 was 26.2% higher than during the same period in 2019. Between February 21 and March 20, 2021, the average was 50.6% higher than the same period in 2019.

The number of visits remained relatively stable for boys of the same age and for adults between the ages of 18 and 25 compared to 2019 levels, the CDC said.

“The results of this study suggest more severe distress in young women than what has been identified in previous reports during the pandemic,” the study said. He called for “increased attention and prevention for this population”.

The study noted that an increase in visits does not necessarily translate into an increase in the number of people dying by suicide. Fewer people have died by suicide in 2020 than any year since 2015, according to a study published earlier this year by the Journal of the American Medical Association. It still remains the eleventh leading cause of death in the country.

The study noted a number of factors that may have made the pandemic more difficult for young Americans, including physical distancing, barriers to mental health treatment, increased drug addiction, and anxiety about being overwhelmed. the physical and financial health of their families. Average rates of emergency department visits for mental health issues and suspected child abuse and neglect, which are risk factors for suicide attempts, also increased in 2020.

The study indicates that suicide and suicide attempts can be prevented through a youth-specific ‘holistic’ and ‘multisectoral’ approach, such as training community and school staff to identify signs of suicide risk and strengthening economic support for families.

“The large-scale implementation of these comprehensive prevention strategies across the United States, including adapting these strategies during times of infrastructure disruption, such as during the pandemic, can contribute to healthy development and prevent youth suicide, ”the study says.

If you or someone you know could be at risk for suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text a crisis counselor at 741741 or visit


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