AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Emergency room trips for suspected suicide attempts among teens increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC. Data shows visits in February and March 2021 “were 50.6 percent higher among girls aged 12–17 years than during the same period in 2019; among boys aged 12–17 years, suspected suicide attempt ED visits increased 3.7 percent.”
“Unfortunately, we have been seeing a trend over the last five years or so of increased suicide attempts in teenagers,” Dr. Dale Peeples, an associate professor of pediatric psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia, explains. “This is well above and beyond a continuation of trend. so something else is going on.”
Augusta University Medical Center saw its numbers jump during the same time period as well:
|MARCH 2019||MARCH 2021|
|NUMBER OF ER VISITS||2||7|
|APRIL 2019||APRIL 2021|
|NUMBER OF ER VISITS||3||5|
Peeples notes teens have been under extreme stress during the pandemic. They switched from in-person to remote learning, many were isolated from friends, and families experienced new financial burdens.
Peeples urges parents to have open conservations with their children and look out for signs of depression.
“That includes feeling sad and down. In teenagers, it can sometimes be presented as irritability too — sleep disruption, fatigue, appetite loss, trouble with concentration, declining school performance, lack of enjoyment, social withdrawal (not wanting to do things with friends or family), feelings of hopelessness. If families are seeing a lot of those symptoms, that’s a big warning sign you want to do something.”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Georgia Crisis and Access line: 1-800-715-4225
South Carolina Crisis Response Dispatcher: 1-833-364-2274