When the coronavirus pandemic hit, experts predicted it might significantly impact teen mental health. With no real school or extracurricular activities, and limited opportunities for socializing or getting out of the house, professionals guessed that teens with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, self-injurious behavior, and suicidal ideation might be more at risk than ever.
We can now see firsthand exactly how COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of adolescents in one area of California.
The trauma center at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek saw an unprecedented number of suicide attempts and self-injurious behavior among young patients, ABC News reports.
As Dr. Mike deBoisblanc, head of the trauma unit at John Muir, said in the report: “We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time…we’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”
A spokesman for the Walnut Creek hospital clarified the doctor’s remarks. Typically, the hospital sees 20 to 25 suicide attempts a year and six deaths from suicide annually. So far, in 2020, there have been 21 suicide attempts and five deaths since January.
According to the ABC report, doctors at Jon Muir have seen more deaths by suicide during this quarantine period than deaths from COVID-19.
Suicides in Contra Costa County
Suicide is the third leading cause of death every year among Contra Costa County residents ages 15 – 34. In 2017, 107 residents died by suicide.
Here are other statistics about self-injurious behavior and suicide in the county, according to Contra Costa Health Services:
- Between 2005–2007, 269 Contra Costa residents committed suicide
- On average, 90 Contra Costa residents commit suicide each year
- Males were more likely to commit suicide than females
- Teenagers and young adults ages 15–24 years are most likely to be hospitalized for self-inflicted injury (NSSI).
- Females are more likely to be hospitalized for self-injurious behavior than males
- Between 2005-2007, the highest number of suicides occurred among residents of Concord (35), Walnut Creek (30), Richmond (26) and Martinez (21).
Treatment for Suicidal Teens
If your teen has a history of self-injurious or suicidal behavior, and they’re in crisis right now, seek treatment immediately. After the crisis has passed, search for a high-quality residential treatment facility that serves suicidal or self-injurious adolescents.
Live in Contra Costa County and experiencing a crisis? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which has counselors available to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The call is free and confidential. Call 1-800-273-TALK.