Teen Suicide Attempts Surged During Lockdowns, CDC Study Shows

Emergency-room visits for suspected suicide attempts by teenagers, especially girls, rose sharply during pandemic lockdowns, according to new data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC study found that suspected suicide attempts in the 12-17 age group declined in the early days of social distancing, but then rose among both girls and boys in the summer of 2020. In the subsequent winter, suspected attempts by female teens surged to 51% higher than the equivalent period of 2019, while among males the rate fell back.

Teen Suicide Attempts Surged During Lockdowns, CDC Study Shows

The data illustrates one aspect of the pandemic’s toll on mental health, as physical distancing measures and stay-at-home orders disrupted daily life across the U.S. It may take years for the full impact to emerge.

The CDC’s findings suggest more severe distress among young females than has been identified in previous reports.

“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),” the authors wrote.

They also cited obstacles to mental health treatment during lockdown, increases in substance abuse, and anxiety about family health and economic problems, all of which are risk factors for suicide.

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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255.

Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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