Suicide attempts among young people soared by 22 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the pandemic hit, on average 102 children and adolescents visited A&E each month after a suicide attempt in the 18 countries included in the study.
But the number jumped to 125 per month during the pandemic.
Hospitals also saw an eight percent rise in visits from those struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Sheri Madigan, a clinical psychologist at the University of Calgary, Canada, said: “What this 22 percent increase means is that in an average emergency department setting, there were 102 children and adolescent visits per month for suicide attempts before the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased to 125 per month during the pandemic.”
The rise occurred even though pediatric emergency department visits decreased by 32 percent during the same period
According to the research team, reasons for this increase are down to more young people facing mental health issues while living in the Covid era.
They found that depression and anxiety symptoms doubled in children and adolescents during the first year of the pandemic.
During the period of social isolation, children’s screen time rose greatly as physical activity levels dwindled.
Many families were also left in turmoil as jobs were lost, family violence increased and the mental health of parents deteriorated.
Dr. Madigan said: “These are all accelerants to mental distress.
“Children have the ability to show resilience in difficult times, but they were pushed past what is tolerable, beyond their capacity-to-cope threshold.
“And now, far more kids and teens are in crisis than was the case before the pandemic.”
According to Dr. Madigan, before the pandemic around one in five children across the globe were experiencing some form of mental illness.
However, only 25 percent who were in serious need of treatment received it.
According to the charity Mind: “One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.”
They add: “One in five people have suicidal thoughts.”
Dr. Madigan said: “In our earlier work on mental health in the pandemic, we determined that kids were in crisis and that we needed to bolster services and resources, or it was going to get worse.
“There’s been a debate during the pandemic whether the kids are alright or not alright.
“Now that more data have been published and analyzed, we can more precisely answer that question. The kids are, in fact, not alright.”
The researchers analyzed 42 studies looking at 11 million pediatric emergency department visits across 18 countries.
They compared the data from studies from January 2020 to July 2021.
Dr. Madigan said: “We will continue to monitor the incoming data to see if this trend of increasing emergency department visits for suicide attempts and suicide ideation among children and adolescents continues to climb as the pandemic changes and evolves.”
“We can’t ignore that the mental health of children and adolescents is in crisis.”
“We need to prioritize the creation of mental health resources, supports, and services now, to help children shift from languishing to flourishing.”
Now, Dr. Madigan urges governments to invest in community resources and infrastructure in and out of schools to support the treatment and identification of mental illness.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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