The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on children’s mental health; new research shows suicide attempts may be on the rise.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the number of children going to the emergency room for suspected suicide attempts has increased, especially for teenage girls, who saw a 50% increase in early 2021 compared to 2019.
The NIMH reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults.
Steve Moore of the Illinois chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said distance learning may be a contributing factor as it reduces the ability to socialize.
Most schools were in distance learning mode during the 2020-2021 school year. Some school districts went virtual at the start of this school year.
Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois High School Association have been sued by the mother of a suicide victim who said her son’s death was an “immediate cause” of the state’s restrictions. The lawsuit, filed in LaSalle County by Lisa Moore and four other parents, accused Pritzker of canceling or indefinitely delaying high school sports and activities while allowing varsity sports to continue.
An Illinois Safe Schools Hotline aimed at giving children a place to report information that could prevent suicide or bullying was extended statewide in October. Available 24/7 at no cost to schools, Safe2Help Illinois allows students unable to confide in a trusted adult to contact through an app, text, phone, or phone. Safe2HelpIL.com.
Moore said it’s important to reach out to someone if you’re feeling down.
âPeople should take advantage of all the health care, mental health services they can, and even have family and friends having an open and honest dialogue,â Moore said.
The suicide prevention helpline is 1-800-273-TALK. From July, the new national number will be 988.