CDC finds dramatic uptick in suspected suicidal attempts among teenage girls during the pandemic

NEW YORK -- After an initial drop in suicide-related emergency department visits at the start of the pandemic, the CDC is reporting that suspected suicide attempts among teenagers rose in 2021.

The uptick was especially pronounced for teenage girls, with the CDC reporting a 51% rise in suspected suicide attempts among girls ages 12-17 from February to March 2021 compared to the same time period in 2019, before the pandemic.

Among boys, there was a 4% rise in suspected suicide attempts. The study does not speculate why this might be the case, and the authors note the trend does not necessarily mean there was an uptick in suicide deaths.

The CDC is urging parents and families to watch out for the signs of suicide risk, limit access to harmful substances and firearms at home, and enroll youth in programs that increase social connections and teach coping skills.

ABC's Dr. Natalie Rosen says that, "Self-reported suicide attempts are consistently higher among adolescent females than among males, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Young persons might represent a group at high risk because they have been particularly affected by mitigation measures. By spending more time at home with young persons, adults may be more aware of suicidal thoughts and behaviors and thus more likely to take their child to the ED during COVID-19. This analysis was not designed to determine whether a causal link existed between these trends and the COVID-19 pandemic."

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) - for free confidential emotional support 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You can also reach the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or the Crisis Text Line by texting "START" to 741741.
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