A new report out from the CDC shows that there was a substantial uptick in emergency department visits by teen girls for suicide attempts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report was released on Friday, and it showed that weekly emergency room visits for teen girls between the ages of 12 and 17 were up by nearly 51 percent to March 2021. The visits included ones for self-harm that was not intended to take life.
Emergency room visits for teens began their rise by May 2020, three months into the pandemic. Teen girls were particularly susceptible, and by the summer of 2020, emergency room visits by that demographic increased more than 26 percent from 2019. That increase moved up to 50.6 percent by March 2021 for girls. Boys' visits to the emergency room for this cause was up nearly 4 percent.
For young men from ages 18 to 25, their numbers "remained stable," per the study, to 2019 rates. Researchers said the findings bolster prior studies indicating young girls have "consistently higher" self-reported suicide attempts than boys, and such trends predated the pandemic," Fox News reports.
The information came from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, which undertook an examination of trends in emergency room visits specifically for suspected suicide attempts, and cover 71 percent of US emergency rooms. The numbers are from January 2019 to May 2021 for the 12 to 25 age group.
"Compared with the rate during the corresponding period in 2019, the rate of ED visits for suspected suicide attempts was 2.4 times as high during spring 2020, 1.7 times as high during summer 2020, and 2.1 times as high during winter 2021," the study reads. "This increase was driven largely by suspected suicide attempt visits among females."
The study found that the reasons for the suicide attempts had to do with isolation as a result of lockdowns and remote learning. Substance abuse was also a factor, as well as health concerns for family, and difficulty obtaining mental health treatment. That kids were home, and more vulnerable to domestic violence, was also an issue.
This increase in visits doesn't mean that there was an increase in suicide, and the CDC didn't tag the increase to the pandemic. There was additional data that showed a decrease in the actual suicide rates from the third quarter of 2019 to 2020. There was not much change for the rates of suicide for the 15 to 24 year old age group.
"...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 study found.
A caveat to the report is that it didn't differentiate between teens who went to the emergency room for the first time for this cause and those who were repeat visitors.