NIMH » Youth Suicide Charges Elevated In the course of 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 knowledge 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 demise over the primary 10 months of the pandemic (March 1, 2020–December 31, 2020). They calculated the overall and month-to-month suicide deaths total and by intercourse, age, race and ethnicity, and suicide technique. Then, they examined what number of younger individuals 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 knowledge 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 increased than the anticipated variety of deaths had the pandemic not occurred. Increased than anticipated suicide charges had been discovered just a few months into the pandemic, beginning in July 2020.

The rise in suicide deaths assorted considerably by intercourse, age, race and ethnicity, and suicide technique. In the course of the pandemic, there have been increased 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 had been additionally increased than anticipated.

The considerably increased 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 barely a primary step in analyzing the pandemic’s impression on youth psychological well being and factors to a number of areas for additional investigation. First, it’s potential that different occasions or elements unrelated to the pandemic that occurred in the course of the research’s time-frame contributed to the rise in youth suicide deaths however had 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 tendencies in youth suicide which will have modified because the pandemic wore on. Final, suicide deaths for some teams might have been underreported on account of inaccurate or misclassified knowledge; ongoing monitoring of suicide charges will assist make clear the suicide danger confronted by younger individuals in the USA.

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


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 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pediatrics, 151(3), Article e2022058375.