The first confirmed COVID-19 case in the U.S. was reported on January 20, 2020. Since this infamous date, Americans have experienced a multitude of emotions, including fear, anger, confusion, grief, despair, stress, as well as a little hope and optimism sprinkled in at varying times.
No one has been spared. Families have had to cope with severe illness and death, parents have had to take on the e-learning universe, employees from every industry have had to dabble in telework, and medical professionals and other essential workers have had to work longer hours in dangerous and stressful settings.
Triggers and coping mechanisms vary from person to person; some are able to get a handle on a changed world, while others continue to struggle on a daily basis. There is one group in particular that has been severely impacted. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study concluded that suicide rates in adolescent girls, ages 12-17, has increased by 50.6% since the pandemic began. Alternatively, suicide attempts in males of this same age group and time period only increased by 3.7%.
Causes of this increased emotional distress include isolation from school, peers and teachers, increases in substance abuse, barriers to mental health treatment and stress and anxiety about family, specifically when it comes to family health and finances.
While this is a troubling discovery, there are steps from the National Institute of Mental Health for parents and friends to take:
- Ask “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
- Keep them safe and reduce access to lethal items or places
- Be there to listen carefully and acknowledge their feelings
- Help them connect by saving the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (800-273-8255)
- Stay connected and follow up after a mental health crisis
In non-emergency situations, parents can consider utilizing psychosocial interventions like counseling. Victress, A Wellness Center for Women, 7120 W. 127th Street in Palos Heights, offers individual and family counseling services, more specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for adolescent girls. CBT can help girls recognize their thought patterns and consider alternative actions when thoughts of suicide occur.
If you know of an adolescent girl who could benefit in speaking with a licensed counselor, please call 708-428-2527 and schedule an appointment today. Additional information can be found at www.victresswellness.com.
In an emergency, dial 911.