Policy Issue

Policy Watch: Concern Over Rise in ED Visits for Suspected Suicide Attempts by Teen Girls

June 17, 2021

A CDC article published earlier this month finds an upsetting trend in emergency department (ED) visits associated with suspected suicide attempts. By comparing ED visits in three distinct time periods in 2020 and 2021 to the corresponding time periods in 2019, researchers found that adolescent girls experienced an increase in suspected suicide attempts beginning in summer 2020 and continuing through spring 2021. The study looked at females and males aged 12-17 years and 18-24 years, and unlike for adolescent girls, suspected suicide attempts in adolescent boys and young adult men and women remained largely consistent with non-pandemic trends.

While the study did not examine risk factors related to increased suicide attempts, the authors offer a few potential causes, such as increased stress and reduced connectedness to peers during the pandemic. Additionally, the authors suggested that parents may have been home more and therefore more aware of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in their teens, which resulted in increased visits to the ED.

It may be reassuring to know that provisional data from 2020 does not show a corresponding increase in suicide deaths; but, the study calls attention to the need for prevention strategies among young adults and tailored approaches for adolescent females in particular.

To read more about the study, visit the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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