More than a year into continued and continuously changing lockdown rules, youth suicide attempts and pediatric mental health ER visits are skyrocketing across the United States.
FAIR Health recently found that, between August 2019 and 2020 in the Northeast, the number of pediatric intentional self-harm claims surged approximately 334 percent “as a percentage of all medical claims.”
According to four mental health experts at Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Massachusetts, 2021 referrals to their Child and Adolescent Psychiatry outpatient clinic “have doubled compared to [their] pre-pandemic baseline.” These doctors have also witnessed an 80 percent increase in emergency department visits regarding pediatric mental health issues.
The problem gets worse. “We are seeing three times as many patients ages 8 to 18 following suicide attempts,” the doctors say, “with 13- and 14-year-olds representing the highest proportion of such ER visits thus far in 2021.”
Research suggests this isn’t an isolated mental health crisis in one particular hospital or city. It’s a much broader societal problem.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that, between April and October 2020 alone, U.S. hospitals experienced “a 24% increase in the proportion of mental health emergency visits for children ages 5 to 11, and a 31% increase for children ages 12 to 17.”