The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
The rate of suspected suicide attempts by poisoning among children and adolescents ages 10-19 reported to U.S. poison centers increased 30% during 2021—the COVID-19 pandemic’s first full year—compared with 2019, a new University of Virginia Health study has found.
The researchers published their findings in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The rate of suspected suicide attempts by poisoning among children ages 10-12 increased 73% during 2021 compared with 2019. Among adolescents ages 13-15, the rate of suspected suicide attempts by poisoning in 2021 increased 48.8% over 2019. The rate of suspected suicide attempts by poisoning among females ages 10-19 increased 36.8% in 2021 over 2019.
The findings are based on a review of cases reported to the National Poison Data System by U.S. poison centers as “intentional suspected suicide,” which encompasses both suspected suicide attempts and intentional self-harm. Girls accounted for 81.2% of the suspected suicide attempts among adolescents ages 10-19 in 2021, compared with 77% in 2019. These increases in suspected suicides occurred while overall calls to the nation’s poison centers decreased 3.1% from 2019 to 2021.
“This significant increase in suicide attempts during the pandemic surprised us,” said Christopher Holstege, MD, medical director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center at UVA Health and chief of the Division of Medical Toxicology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “We are alarmed at the dramatic increase in suicide attempts in such a young population, which continues to escalate according to our data.”
The two most common substances involved in the reported suicide attempts were acetaminophen and ibuprofen, two commonly available, over-the-counter pain relievers.