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ER Visits for Suspected Suicide Attempts Among Teenage Girls Rose During Pandemic

In the early months of 2021, visits to emergency departments for suspected suicide attempts increased roughly 50 percent for adolescent girls compared with the same period in 2019, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which analyzed emergency department data from certain weeks in 2020 and 2021, found that trips for suspected suicide attempts among adolescents, especially girls, ages 12 to 17, began to increase in May 2020. From February to March 2021, the visits among girls rose 50.6 percent compared with 2019. For boys, the increase was 3.7 percent.

Though the report’s authors emphasized that their findings do not mean suicide deaths among adolescents have increased, mental health experts say the data is concerning. The pandemic’s effect on mental health is well-documented and it’s long been known that females are more likely than males to attempt suicide, but the CDC researchers noted that their study appears to provide new insights into the psychological toll younger Americans are experiencing.

The study examined data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, which includes approximately 71 percent of the nation’s emergency departments across 49 states. But analyses were restricted to emergency departments that reported data consistently and had at least one visit for suspected suicide attempts — or about 41 percent of the overall sample.

Researchers noted that the rate of visits by adolescents to emergency departments for suspected suicide attempts increased as the pandemic progressed, and they largely attributed the rise to visits by girls aged 12 to 17. Similar dramatic spikes were not observed in adolescent boys in the same age demographic or men and women ages 18 to 25.

“While provisional data shows that suicide deaths in 2020 decreased, we know that factors brought on by the pandemic, such as loneliness and isolation, are negatively impacting Americans across the country,” Colleen Carr, director of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, said in a statement. “It’s time we make suicide prevention a national priority and take the necessary actions needed to address this leading public health issue.”

But while the data is alarming, experts highlighted that the study’s various limitations make it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the findings. The researchers wrote in the report that their findings were subject to at least nine limitations, including that the “analysis was not designed to determine whether a causal link existed between these trends and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Excerpted from “CDC: ER Visits for Suspected Suicide Attempts Among Teenage Girls Rose During Pandemic” in The Washington Post. Read the full article online.

Source: The Washington Post | CDC: ER Visits for Suspected Suicide Attempts Among Teenage Girls Rose During Pandemic, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/teen-girls-suicide-attempts-pandemic-/2021/06/11/567a4f62-cac0-11eb-a11b-6c6191ccd599_story.html | © 2021 The Washington Post

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