The CDC reports an alarming level of pandemic-related psychological and behavioral distress including thoughts of suicide across US population segments.
One-quarter of young adults aged between 18 and 24 years say they have contemplated suicide in the past 30 days as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Among the 5412 adults aged ≥18 years completing a web-based survey between June 24–30, 2020, more than two-thirds (40.9%) reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition:
Mental health challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic are linked to the infection’s widespread morbidity and mortality, to mitigation efforts that include social distancing and stay-at-home orders, loss of job security or employment, and many other severe disrupters.
Data from the National Center for Health Statistics on symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorder during April-June of 2020 found a significant increase over the same period in 2019.
The survey authors note that the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder between April and June 2020 was approximately 3 times that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% vs 8.1%); prevalence of depressive disorder in the 2020 report was approximately 4 times that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (24.3% versus 6.5%). (Note that methodologic differences and potential unknown bias in survey design may limit direct comparison between the two data sets.)
Groups experiencing the greatest burden include young adults, unpaid caregivers of adults, essential workers, and minorities. While 10.7% of all respondents reported considering suicide in the past 30 days, 25.5% of young adults between ages 18 to 24 reported having such thoughts. Approximately 31% of self-reported unpaid caregivers and 22% percent of essential workers reported thoughts of suicide. Among racial/ethnic groups 18.6% of Hispanic respondents and 15.1% of black respondents had considered taking their own lives.
The survey's findings, the authors note, indicate the broad impact of the COIVD-19 pandemic on mental health across populations and underscore the need to treat the current manifestations and just as critically, to prevent future mental and behavioral distress.
Among the suggestions for action: