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Emergency room visits for suicide attempts for adolescents - especially among U.S. teenage girls - rose dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report finds. 

Compared with the same period in 2019, the average number of visits among 12-to-17-year-olds rose by more than 20 percent in summer 2020 and nearly 40 percent in winter 2021 compared to the same periods in 2019.

Among teen girls in this age bracket, the increase was jarring - rising by by more than 50 percent in February-March 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed.

The federal health agency says there needs to be an increase in mental health efforts specifically targeted towards teens to help curb suicide attempt rates.

The average number of ER visits among 12-to-17-year-olds rose by more than 20% in summer 2020 and 40% in winter 2021 compared to 2019 (file image)

Teen girls largely drove the increase with a 26.2% rise in summer 2020 and 50.6% spike in winter 2021 (above)

Public health experts say it's undoubtable that the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in mental health disorders with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders implemented.

This was especially felt by children and teens who were not able to interact with their peers due to school shutdowns and remote learning, leading to increased feelings fo social isolation.  

Compared with the rate in 2019, there was 31 percent increase in the proportion of mental health–related ER visits occurred among teens 2020, many of them likely for suicidal thoughts or attempts.

For the study, published in the weekly MMWR report, the CDC looked at emergency department visits from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program between 2019 and 2021.

Researchers determined visits were for suspected suicide attempt by using a combination of diagnosis codes and chef complaint terms. 

Among adolescents between ages 12 and 17, the average number of ER visits for suicide attempts decreased during spring 2020 compared to spring 2019 before increasing for both sexes.

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 By comparison, average visits for teen boys only rose 3.7% in winter 2021 compared to the same period in 2019 (above)

During summer (July-August) 2020, average weekly visits were 22.3 percent higher compared to summer 2019 

Additionally, the average number of visits in winter (February- March) 2021 were 39.1 greater compared to winter 2019. 

The increase was largely driven by teen girls, who saw a 26.2 percent increase in summer 2020 and 50.6 percent increase in winter 2021 compared to the same periods in 2019.

Meanwhile, average visits for teen boys only rose 3.7 percent in winter 2021. 

The CDC recommends that public health departments, mental health facilities and schools implement strategies specific to young people.

This includes providing more economic support for families, teaching adults how to safely store description medications and firearms, and training  community and school staff members to learn the signs of suicide risk. 

'Suicide can be prevented through a comprehensive approach that supports persons from becoming suicidal as well as persons who are at increased risk for suicide,' the authors wrote.

'Such an approach involved multisectoral partnerships...and implementation of evidence-based strategies to address the range of factors influencing suicide attempts, which is a leading risk factor for suicide.

'Widely implementing these comprehensive prevention strategies across the United States, including adapting these strategies during times of infrastructure disruption, such as during the pandemic, can contribute to healthy development and prevent suicide among young persons.'   

  • For confidential help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here.
  • For confidential support on suicide matters in the UK, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here. 
  • For confidential support in Australia, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or click here. 

Read more:
  • Emergency Department Visits for Suspected Suicide Attempts Among Persons Aged 12–25 Years Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, January 2019–May 2021 | MMWR
  • Lifeline
  • Samaritans | Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy | Here to listen
  • Lifeline Australia - 13 11 14 - Crisis Support. Suicide Prevention.

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Tags: topics index percent increase suicide prevention the same period percent in winter compared during the covid the increase the increase during the covid united states teen girls the national report finds

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John McAfee ‘didn’t say goodbye to family’ before ‘suicide’ – as autopsy ordered despite ‘no evidence of foul play’

JOHN McAfee "didn't say goodbye to family" before his reported suicide, and an autopsy was ordered despite "no evidence of foul play."

A court spokeswoman for the Catalonia region said that a forensic team would need to perform toxicology tests on McAfee’s body to determine the cause of death and that results could take "days or weeks."

Read our John McAfee live blog for the latest news and updates...

6John McAfee reportedly died by suicide on WednesdayCredit: AP

Authorities have said that everything at the scene indicated that the 75-year-old tycoon killed himself.

The judicial investigation is being handled by a court in Martorell, a town northwest of Barcelona with jurisdiction over the prison where McAfee died.

McAfee’s Spanish lawyer, Javier Villalba, said the entrepreneur’s death had come as a surprise to his wife and other relatives, adding he would seek to get “to the bottom” of his client’s death.

"This has been like pouring cold water on the family and on his defense team," Villalba told The Associated Press on Thursday. "Nobody expected it, he had not said goodbye."

News of McAfee's death comes after:

  • He was charged over a $13million cryptocurrency "scam"
  • His controversial moments were revealed
  • McAfee was arrested in Spain over "multi-million dollar tax evasion"
  • He claimed he had "dirt on those in power" that he threatened to expose if he died
6John McAfee and his wife JaniceCredit: Twitter 6The software guru's company McAfee Associates was sold to Intel in 2011 for $7.7billionCredit: Reuters

Although Villalba said that he had no evidence of any foul play, he blamed the death on "the cruelty of the system" for keeping a 75-year-old behind bars for economic and not blood-related crimes after judges refused to release him on bail.

"We had managed to nullify seven of the 10 counts he was accused of and even so he was still that dangerous person who could be fleeing Spain if he was released?" the lawyer said. "He was a world eminence, where could he hide?"

Spain’s National Court on Monday ruled that McAfee should be extradited to the U.S. to face charges for evading more than $4 million in the fiscal years 2016 to 2018. The judge dropped seven of the 10 counts in the initial indictment.

Villalba said that McAfee had learned about the ruling shortly after on Monday and that his death on Wednesday didn’t come in the heat of the moment. He also said that the legal team had been preparing with him an appeal to avoid being extradited.

6Janice said McAfee was struggling in prisonCredit: Refer to Caption 6McAfee was a controversial figure 6McAfee had warned he would be 'whackd' in a post from 2019Credit: Twitter

A penitentiary source told AP that McAfee was sharing a cell in the Brians 2 jail where he had been put in preventive detention since he was arrested in October last year on a US warrant, but that at the moment of his death he had been alone.

Prosecutors in Tennessee accused McAfee of failing to report income from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consulting work, earnings made in speaking engagements and for selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.

The criminal charges carried a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

The British-born entrepreneur led an eccentric life after selling his stake in the antivirus software company named after him in the early 1990s. He twice made long-shot runs for the US presidency.

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McAfee often professed his love for drugs and guns in public remarks. And some of his actions landed him in legal trouble beyond Tennessee, from Central America to the Caribbean.

In 2012, he was sought for questioning in connection with the murder of his neighbor in Belize, but was never charged with a crime.

If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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