NIMH » Youth Suicide Charges Elevated Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Analysis Spotlight

Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people in the United States. Rates of youth suicide deaths were rising before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began, so it is critical to understand how the pandemic impacted this public health crisis. In a new study supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers examined national youth suicide trends and characteristics in the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A research team led by Jeffrey Bridge, Ph.D., Donna Ruch, Ph.D., and Lisa Horowitz, Ph.D., MPH, analyzed nationwide suicide information from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. The researchers first recognized all U.S. youth aged 5 to 24 years with suicide listed as the reason for loss of life over the primary 10 months of the pandemic (March 1, 2020–December 31, 2020). They calculated the entire and month-to-month suicide deaths total and by intercourse, age, race and ethnicity, and suicide methodology. Then, they examined what number of younger folks died by suicide in the course of the first 10 months of the pandemic and in contrast it to an estimated variety of suicide deaths throughout that very same interval had the pandemic not occurred (calculated utilizing information from the earlier 5 years).

The researchers recognized 5,568 youth who died by suicide in the course of the first 10 months of the pandemic, which was greater than the anticipated variety of deaths had the pandemic not occurred. Larger than anticipated suicide charges have been discovered just a few months into the pandemic, beginning in July 2020.

The rise in suicide deaths diverse considerably by intercourse, age, race and ethnicity, and suicide methodology. Through the pandemic, there have been greater than anticipated suicide deaths amongst males, preteens aged 5–12 years, younger adults aged 18–24 years, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaskan Native youth, and non-Hispanic Black youth as in comparison with earlier than the pandemic. Suicide deaths involving firearms have been additionally greater than anticipated.

The considerably greater variety of suicide deaths reported for sure racial and ethnic teams, particularly non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaskan Native and non-Hispanic Black youth, highlights ongoing disparities in charges of suicide that the pandemic might have exacerbated. The rise in suicide deaths amongst preteens additionally means that extra consideration might should be paid to this age group, who are typically understudied in suicide prevention analysis and have completely different developmental wants than older adolescents and younger adults.

This analysis is simply a primary step in analyzing the pandemic’s affect on youth psychological well being and factors to a number of areas for additional investigation. First, it’s doable that different occasions or components unrelated to the pandemic that occurred in the course of the research’s time-frame contributed to the rise in youth suicide deaths however have been unmeasured. Second, analysis remains to be wanted to determine the underlying causes of the rise in youth suicide deaths, each total and for particular teams. Third, the COVID-19 pandemic interval analyzed on this research was restricted to 10 months in 2020 and doesn’t replicate longer-term traits in youth suicide which will have modified because the pandemic wore on. Final, suicide deaths for some teams might have been underreported resulting from inaccurate or misclassified information; ongoing monitoring of suicide charges will assist make clear the suicide danger confronted by younger folks in america.

This research reveals that the pandemic impacted youth suicide charges, however the affect was not the identical for everybody and diverse based mostly on intercourse, age, and race and ethnicity. As such, the authors counsel that it could be useful to broadly implement suicide prevention efforts in settings that serve younger folks, whereas additionally tailoring these efforts to handle the disparities confronted by particular teams. Furthermore, given the prolonged length of the pandemic and its ongoing affect on younger folks in america, will probably be vital to watch long-term traits in suicide charges related to COVID-19 and determine components driving the elevated danger for suicide amongst some folks.


Bridge, J. A., Ruch, D. A., Sheftall, A. H., Hahm, H. C., O’Keefe, V. M., Fontanella, C. A., Brock, G., Campo, J. V., & Horowitz, L. M. (2023). Youth suicide in the course of the first yr of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pediatrics, 151(3), Article e2022058375.