Study: Adolescent suicides rose in first year of pandemic

Study: Adolescent suicides rose in first year of pandemic

Suicides among American adolescents in more than a dozen states rose during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research published in a leading academic journal.

In a study of death certificates in 14 states, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, seven researchers found that suicides for adolescents aged 10 to 19 were a larger share of all suicides in 2020 than in the pre-pandemic years of 2015 to 2019.

The number of suicides among young people also rose. While the number of adolescent suicides averaged 835.6 per year from 2015 to 2019, the 14 states reported 903 suicides in 2020.

That’s the opposite of the general trend, where the number of overall suicides decreased from an annual average of 14,236.2 in 2015-2019 to 13,921 in 2020. 

“Although previous studies reported that suicide-related deaths in the broader population decreased during the pandemic, we found that adolescents have not experienced the same patterns as adults in the participating 14 states in the same period,” the study reported.

The study found that the total number of adolescent suicides rose in Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Virginia. In contrast, Montana saw a decrease in both the absolute count and proportion of adolescent suicides.

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The study, titled “Evaluation of Suicides Among Adolescents During Pandemic,” covered all 10 Department of Health and Human Services regions and 33% of all U.S. adolescents.