Young people drove spike in ED visits for suspected suicide attempts during pandemic, CDC finds

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Among people ages 12-17, visits for suspected suicide attempts across U.S. emergency departments soared earlier this year, and were largely driven by girls in this age group, according to the CDC's June 11 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Using data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, which includes information from most of the country's EDs, researchers examined trends in visits for suspected suicide attempts among people ages 12-25 across three periods during the pandmic, and compared them to the same periods in 2019. 

Overall, the average number of weekly ED visits for suspected sucide attempts among adolescents ages 12-17 was 22.3% higher in summer 2020, and 39 percent higher during winter 2021, compared to the same periods in 2019. 

The increase was largely driven by girls ages 12-15, the findings showed. Among this group, visits were nearly 51 percent higher during winter 2021. During the same period, visits among adolescent boys rose 3.7 percent. 

For those ages 18-25, visits dropped 16.8 percent and 5.6 percent in the spring and summer of 2021, respectively. In the winter, however, there was a 1.7 percent increase, compared to 2019 data. 

"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 CDC said. 

Young people were particularly affected by pandemic safety measures, such as school closures, which may have increased suicide risk factors, researchers said. 

To view the full report, click here.

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