Suicide attempts by teenage girls in the US rose by 51 per cent during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report showed that between February 21 and March 20, 2021, the emergency department (ED) visits for suspected suicide attempts were 50.6 per cent higher among girls aged 12-17 years than during the same period in 2019.
Among boys aged 12-17 years, the suspected suicide attempt ED visits increased 3.7 per cent. The difference in suspected suicide attempts by sex and the increase in suspected suicide attempts among young persons, especially adolescent females, is consistent with past research.
“However, 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 CDC said.
The ED visits for suspected suicide attempts begin to rise in May last year. The average weekly number of ED visits for suspected suicide attempts among adolescents 12-17 years was 22.3 per cent higher during the summer of 2020 and 39.1 per cent higher during the winter of 2021 than during the corresponding periods in 2019, the report said.
While the average weekly number rose among girls — 26.2 per cent higher in the summer and 50 per cent higher in the winter, among boys aged 12-17, the visits increased only 3.7 per cent in the winter compared to the same period in 2019.
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, the agency said.
“Suicide prevention requires a comprehensive approach that is adapted during times of infrastructure disruption, involves multisectoral partnerships and implements evidence-based strategies to address the range of factors influencing suicide risk," the CDC said.
A recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, also showed that Covid-19 has had a significant, detrimental impact on adolescent mental health, especially in girls. The study found that negative mental health outcomes were disproportionately reported by girls and older adolescents (13-18-year-olds), compared to same-age peers prior to the pandemic.
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