If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy on Tuesday released a new Opinion of the general surgeon, warning of a growing crisis in youth mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As the crisis began to escalate in the decade leading up to the pandemic, COVID-19 worsened conditions as it limited social interactions and access to needed health and social services among young people, according to the office of the surgeon general.
“Mental health problems in children, adolescents and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression and suicidal thoughts – and rates have increased over the past decade, ”Murthy said in a statement Tuesday. “The COVID-19 pandemic has further altered their experiences at home, at school and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating. “
Early data shows that emergency room visits for teenage suicide attempts, in particular, have increased by 51% during COVID-19 and adolescent emergency room visits increased 4% over the same period.
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While some young people have had more sleep, exercise and family time at home during the pandemic, others have suffered.
“They missed the first few days of school, months or even years of in-person schooling, graduation ceremonies, athletic competitions, play dates and time with loved ones,” says the advisory. . “They and their families may have lost access to mental health care, social services, income, food or shelter. by June 2021, more than 140,000 children in the United States had lost a parent or grandparent caring for COVID-19. “
Additionally, as COVID-19 limited in-person interactions and services for young people, signs of abuse and mental health issues became more difficult for adults to recognize.
The opinion also cites a “national calculation of the deaths of black Americans at the hands of police officers, including the murder of George Floyd”; “Violence against Asian Americans”; “Gun violence”; and an “increasingly polarized political dialogue” as the reasons for the decline in youth mental health in 2020 and 2021.
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Early estimates for 2020 show more than 6,600 suicide deaths among young Americans aged 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention.
Even before COVID-19, one in five American children between the ages of 3 and 17 suffered from mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral disorders, a CDC Report spectacles.
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Over the decade between 2009 and 2019, more specifically, the number of students who reported constantly feeling sad or hopeless increased by 40% to more than one in three students, according to Murthy’s office.
Suicide among high school students increased 36% between 2009 and 2019, with 19% of teens considering suicide and 16% planning to attempt suicide in 2018. Suicide rate among young Americans aged 10 to 24 years old increased by 57% between 2007 and 2018.
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The Office of the Surgeon General recommends that adults recognize mental well-being as an important factor in the general well-being of a child; enable young people to build strong relationships with adults and to pay attention to social media and the use of technology; limit children’s access to means of self-harm; ensure that children have access to quality health care; provide safe learning environments for children; tackle “economic and social barriers” among young Americans; and find better ways to track data on trends in youth mental health.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by calling 800-273-8255.
For those who don’t want to speak to a counselor, there is also a national crisis text line available 24/7 by texting ‘my home’ to 741741.