The following is excerpted from an online article posted by News-Medical.
The incidences of teen suicidality, including self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts, increased nationally between 2016 and 2021; were at seasonal high peaks in April and October, and were at their lowest when schools were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research at UTHealth Houston.
The study was published this month in JAMA Network Open.
In the cross-sectional study, researchers looked at 73,123 emergency department visits and hospitalizations that occurred among more than a million youth and adolescents each year for suicidality between 2016 and 2021. The national database is administrated by Millard Krause, DrPH, professor in the Department of Management, Policy, and Community Health at the School of Public Health and co-director at the Center for Health Care Data.
Among these events, nearly 66% were females with the average age of 15. From 2016 to 2019, there was an increase in incidence from 760 per 100,000 to 1,006 per 100,000. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a temporary decrease to 942 per 100,000 and then a jump to 1,160 per 100,000 in 2021.
“There was a linear trend where the increase was consistent from 2016 to 2019, and then a drop in 2020. However, the rebound in 2021 did not resume along that trend line, it actually overshot it,” Scott D. Lane, PhD, professor and vice chair for research in the Louis A. Faillace, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston said. “We found a post-COVID increase in suicidality beyond what would be expected, and it was particularly salient in females.”
During pre-COVID-19 years and 2021, seasonal patterns showed peaks in April and October with a dramatic low in the summer months. consistent with the school calendar. However, for the spring of 2020, during the time when schools were shut down, April and May had the lowest rates.
Given the findings, researchers suggest interventions during the peak months of April and October, especially for adolescent females, could help in protect against seasonal increases in suicidality.