THURSDAY, April 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Compared with the prepandemic period, during 2021, there was an increase in the overall rate of suspected suicide attempts by self-poisoning among children aged 10 to 19 years, according to research published in the April 21 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Rita Farah, Ph.D., from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, and colleagues examined trends in suspected suicide attempts by self-poisoning among persons aged 10 to 19 years before and during the COVID-19 pandemic using the National Poison Data System database.
The researchers found that the overall rate of suspected suicide attempts by self-poisoning increased by 30.0 percent during 2021 compared with 2019 (prepandemic), with rates increasing by 73.0, 48.8, and 36.8 percent among children aged 10 to 12 years, teens aged 13 to 15 years, and girls, respectively. These trends continued into the third quarter of 2022. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, sertraline, fluoxetine, and diphenhydramine were the substances most frequently involved in overdoses. In 2021 and 2022, acetaminophen-involved overdoses increased 71 and 58.0 percent, respectively, and diphenhydramine-involved overdoses increased 24.2 and 35.8 percent, respectively.
"Pediatric and adolescent suicide attempts by self-poisoning have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic," the authors write. "It is imperative to mitigate this increase with suicide prevention measures that focus on children and adolescents and involve partnerships between key partners in the communities, such as families, school teachers, mental health professionals, and public health leadership."