One in four young adults in the US say they have seriously considered suicide in the past month due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The jarring study is the latest piece of research to highlight how the pandemic and related lockdown measures have brought a flood of mental health problems and substance abuse issues, especially among young people, unpaid caregivers, essential workers, Hispanic people, and Black people.
The CDC study surveyed 5,412 people between June 24 and 30 about their recent mental health and discovered that levels of anxiety and depression have skyrocketed this year compared with the same period in 2019.
Over 40 percent of the respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition stemming from the pandemic, including symptoms of anxiety or depression (30.9 percent) or symptoms of a trauma-related disorder (26.3 percent). Just over 13 percent of people said they had started or increased drug use to cope with the stress related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Young people, minorities, and some other social groups were especially vulnerable to these problems. The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey (10.7 percent) was significantly higher among respondents aged 18 to 24 years (25.5 percent), unpaid caregivers for adults (30.7 percent), and essential workers (21.7 percent), Hispanic people (18.6 percent), and Black people (15.1 percent).
The recent report does have some limitations, namely because the data was gathered from an anonymous internet survey that used self-reporting and didn't use clinical diagnoses. Nevertheless, the findings closely mirror those found in other studies looking at the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and mental health.
Back in June, another study in the UK found that mental health took a huge plunge across the UK after the first month of the Covid-19 lockdown, especially among young people, unpaid caregivers, and people living in low-income households. The researchers argue that the pandemic deepened “pre-existing inequalities in mental health for women and young people.”
Some experts have warned there is likely to be "an explosion" of mental health referrals towards the end of this year. Also concerned with this surge, the new CDC study concludes by noting "community-level efforts, including health communication strategies, should prioritize young adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers."
If you are having suicidal thoughts or you know someone who is, help is available. In the US, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, you can speak to a counselor at the Samaritans at 116-123. You can also email them at email@example.com, or visit www.samaritans.org. All calls are free and available 24/7, 365 days a year