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Youth suicide attempts soared among teen girls during pandemic, CDC reports

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COVID-19 Updates
COVID-19 Updates
 5 days ago
(Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

By Hanna Park

(WASHINGTON) Emergency room departments reported a surge in visits for suspected suicide attempts among adolescent girls aged 12 to 17 in early 2021, compared to years prior to the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday.

The new study, which used data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, documented an average of 50.6% more suspected suicide attempt visits between Feb. 21 and March 20, 2021, compared to the same period in 2019.

“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 report said.

The CDC emphasized the distinction between visits for suspected suicide attempts and suicide deaths, stating, “Importantly, although this report found increases in ED visits for suspected suicide attempts among adolescent females during 2020 and early 2021, this does not mean that suicide deaths have increased.”

Overall, adolescents had 39% more suspected suicide attempt visits in the winter 2021 period compared to 2019, with those numbers largely driven by girls. There was a 3.7% rise in these visits for adolescent boys during that period.

The study drew on data from about 71% of the nation’s emergency departments in 49 states. The conclusion follows a number of recent studies that showed increased rates of mental health problems and suicidal thoughts and behavior among teenagers during the pandemic lockdown orders.

The agency called for more attention and effort to reduce the risk of suicide, especially among adolescent girls.

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