The rate of suspected suicide attempts by poisoning among children and teens ages 10 to 19 rose 30% in 2021 compared with prepandemic rates, a new study finds. Girls accounted for 81.2% of suicide attempts, HealthDay reports.
Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 73% increase among children ages 10 to 12, and a 48.8% jump among teens ages 13 to 15. The two most common substances involved in the reported suicide attempts were acetaminophen and ibuprofen, followed by two antidepressant medications, sertraline and fluoxetine, along with diphenhydramine, an antihistamine available over the counter that is frequently used to treat allergies.
“This significant increase in suicide attempts during the pandemic surprised us,” researcher Christopher Holstege, M.D., chief of the Division of Medical Toxicology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, said in a news release. “We are alarmed at the dramatic increase in suicide attempts in such a young population, which continues to escalate according to our data.”
The researchers recommend heightened public education initiatives on the safe storage of over-the-counter medications and the availability of assistance in case of an overdose through poison centers by calling 800-222-1222. They also recommend additional promotion of the national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for people experiencing a mental health crisis.