In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, a review of data from 14 states reveals another another alarming trend for young people’s mental health.
An increase in the percentage of teen suicides in 2020, according to data from a sample of states, is yet another warning concerning the COVID-19 pandemic’s mental health toll on American kids.
Researchers looked at suicide data from 14 states from 2015 to 2020 for an analysis that was published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. They discovered that the percentage of suicides among young people aged 10 to 19 as a whole increased by 10% in 2020 compared to the average share from the pre-pandemic years of 2015 through 2019.
The percentage of youth suicides in 2020 increased statistically significantly in California, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Virginia. With the exception of California, each of those states saw a considerable increase in the overall number of teen suicides. Notably, Montana experienced statistically substantial drops in the proportion and total number of teen suicides in 2020 when compared to the pre-epidemic period.
Adolescent suicides made up 6.5% of all suicides in the 14 states in 2020, up from 5.9% from 2015 to 2019. Compared to an average of 836 fatalities per year from 2015 to 2019, the number of youth suicides increased overall by 8% to 903 deaths in 2020, according to data, albeit it was not deemed statistically significant.
Marie-Laure Charpignon, a Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, is the study’s primary author. She claims that the rising number of youth suicides is similar to a different trend in suicide among adults.
For instance, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate a decrease in suicide among persons aged 35 to 74 between 2019 and 2020.
We should continue to pay attention to the fact that there isn’t a similar downward tendency among teenagers, according to Charpignon.
The study only covered a little more than a quarter of the states in the US, but its data represented around 32% of all Americans and a third of the country’s teenagers. Its findings also provide the most recent proof of the nation’s young people’s rising mental health problem, which experts claim started developing before COVID-19 but has been amplified by the pandemic.
A CDC report from the previous year indicated that between February 21 and March 20, 2021, compared to the same time in 2019, the average weekly number of emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts among females aged 12 to 17 increased by 50%. The same survey discovered a 3.7% rise among boys.
A joint statement declaring a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health was released in October by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association. The groups mentioned the pandemic’s effects, the fight for racial fairness, and the rise in childhood mental health issues over the previous ten years.
According to Charpignon, the results of her study and other studies raise the question of whether more resources for adult suicide prevention and intervention should be switched to youth mental health issues.
But first, she cautions, it’s important to comprehend the underlying causes of such problems.
According to Charpignon, “We simply can’t reallocate suicide prevention initiatives toward adolescents without first figuring out the need that this trend signals.”