October 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that more youth have died of suicide or drug overdose during the COVID-19 pandemic than from the virus itself. The Addiction Policy Forum found a 20% jump in substance abuse in a June survey. Additionally, the American Medical Association released a report in July that found over 35 states have reported increases in opioid-related deaths.
And for Americans ages 10 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death. In 2019, the CDC reported that, within the last decade, the suicide rate for youth ages 10 to 14 has nearly tripled, with the suicide rate of older teens rising by 76%.
These two causes of death existed long before COVID-19 but have worsened under the strain of the virus.
Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, said this could be the result of school closures. “A lot of kids get their mental health services … in school,” Redfield explained. “A lot of people get food and nutrition in schools. Schools are really important in terms of mandatory reporting of sexual and child abuse. Obviously, socialization is important.”
Redfield added that the “cost to our nation in continuing to keep these schools closed is substantial.”