Rates of suicidal thinking and behavior among teens rose 25% or more during certain months last year compared with similar periods in 2019, according to a new study.
Among youth ages 11 to 21 undergoing routine suicide risk screening in a pediatric emergency department, researchers found a significantly higher rate of suicidal thinking in March and July 2020, and higher rates of suicide attempts in February, March, April and July 2020, compared with the same months in 2019.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found through most of 2020, the proportion of pediatric emergency admissions for mental issues such as panic and anxiety increased by 24% for young children and 31% for teens compared with the previous year.
“What parents and children are consistently reporting is an increase in all symptoms — a child who was a little anxious before the pandemic became very anxious over this past year,” Dr. Adiaha I. A. Spinks-Franklin, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine, told The New York Times. She said the prolonged stress caused by the pandemic over time hinders the brain’s capacity to manage emotions.