Emergency Department Visits for Suicide Attempts during COVID-19
June 25, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report on emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts among youth ages 12 to 25 before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the report, visits for suspected suicide attempts began to increase in May 2020 among adolescents ages 12 to 17, especially girls. From February 21 to March 20, 2021, emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts were 50.6% higher among girls ages 12 to 17 than during the same period in 2019; among boys in that age group, visits increased 3.7%.
These findings are subject to numerous limitations, including the likelihood that emergency department utilization was atypical during the pandemic. However, they highlight the importance of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention that includes efforts to:
- Strengthen health care systems, including the implementation of recommended standard care for suicide risk and best practices in care transitions
- Develop community-based prevention efforts that are guided by evidence-based strategies and implementation approaches
- Promote mental health and suicide prevention in schools and other community settings, including fostering social connectedness and support
- Provide mental health support and resources to groups disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Identify and gather additional data, such as suicide and self-harm data from state and regional poison control centers, to provide more context for evaluating suicide and mental health trends