In May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, ED visits for suspected suicide attempts began to increase among adolescents aged 12–17 years, especially girls. During February 21–March 20, 2021, suspected suicide attempt ED visits were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12–17 years than during the same period in 2019; among boys aged 12–17 years, suspected suicide attempt ED visits increased 3.7%.

Beginning in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and response, which included physical distancing and stay-at-home orders, disrupted daily life in the United States. Compared with the rate in 2019, a 31% increase in the proportion of mental health–related emergency department (ED) visits occurred among adolescents aged 12–17 years in 2020. In June 2020, 25% of surveyed adults aged 18–24 years reported experiencing suicidal ideation related to the pandemic in the past 30 days

 

Among high school students ages 14-18 during 2019

  • One in five (18.8%) students seriously considered suicide.³
  • One in six (15.7%) students reported making a plan in the last year about how they would attempt suicide.³
  • One in 11 (8.9%) students attempted suicide at least once in the last year.³
  • One in 40 (2.5%) students made a suicide attempt requiring medical treatment.³

Among high school students ages 14-18 in the U.S. during 2013

  • 17.0% of students seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months (22.4% of females and 11.6% of males).
  • 13.6% of students made a plan about how they would attempt suicide in the previous 12 months (16.9% of females and 10.3% of males).
  • 8.0% of students attempted suicide one or more times in the previous 12 months (10.6% of females and 5.4% of males).
  • 2.7% of students made a suicide attempt that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or an overdose that required medical attention (3.6% of females and 1.8% of males)

Gender Disparities in Suicide 

  • Females are more likely to seriously consider suicide (24.1%) than males (13.3%).³
  • Across all ages, males are 3.7 times more likely to die by suicide than females.
  • Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for males and the fourteenth leading cause for females.1
  • Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide among males (56.9%).1
  • Poisoning is the most common method of suicide for females (34.8%).1

Racial and Ethnic Disparities

  • Research from 2019 indicates that the American Indian or Alaskan native youth have the highest rate of suicide, followed by white, black, Hispanics of all races, and Asian and Pacific Islanders.  
  • Since 1991, black adolescents, especially black boys, have seen the greatest increase in self-reported suicide attempts. 
  • Among Hispanic students in grades 9-12, the prevalence of having seriously considered attempting suicide (18.9%), having made a plan about how they would attempt suicide (15.7%), having attempted suicide (11.3%), and having made a suicide attempt that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or overdose that required medical attention (4.1%) was consistently higher than white and black students.4

Age Group Differences

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14, the second among persons aged 15-34 years.
  • Among adults aged 18-22 years, similar percentages of full-time college students and other adults in this age group had suicidal thoughts (8.0 and 8.7%, respectively) or made suicide plans (2.4 and 3.1%).3
  • Full-time college students aged 18-22 years were less likely to attempt suicide (0.9 vs. 1.9 percent) or receive medical attention as a result of a suicide attempt in the previous 12 months (0.3 vs. 0.7%).3

Identity Trends in Suicide

  • LGBTQ+ youth are at a higher risk of dying by suicide than their cisgender, heterosexual peers.³
  • 23% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students reported a suicide attempt in 2019.³
  • 16% of students questioning their sexuality reported a suicide attempt in 2019.³ 
  • 6% of heterosexual youth reported a suicide attempt in 2019. 
  • 51% of transgender, female to male, adolescents reported the highest rates of suicide behaviors compared with all other gender identity groups.
  • 42% of nonbinary youth reported having suicidal behavior. 
  • 30% of transgender, male to female, youth reported suicide behaviors. 

References 

  1. Curtin, Sally. “State Suicide Rates among Adolescents and Young Adults Aged 10-24: United States, 2000-2018.” National Vital Statistics Reports, vol. 69, no. 11, 2020, www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr69/NVSR-69-11-508.pdf.
  2. “WISQARS Data Visualization.” Cdc.gov, 2020, https://wisqars-viz.cdc.gov:8006/lcd/home
  3. Ivey-Stephenson, Asha Z., et al. “Suicidal Ideation and Behaviors among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019.” MMWR Supplements, vol. 69, no. 1, Aug. 2020, pp. 47–55, https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.su6901a6.
  4. “Suicide.” www.nimh.nih.gov, National Institution of Mental Health, May 2021, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.
  5. Lindsey, Michael A., et al. “Trends of Suicidal Behaviors among High School Students in the United States: 1991–2017.” Pediatrics, vol. 144, no. 5, Oct. 2019, p. e20191187, https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-1187.
  6. Toomey, Russell B., et al. “Transgender Adolescent Suicide Behavior.” Pediatrics, vol. 142, no. 4, Sept. 2018, p. e20174218, https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-4218.
X