Suicidal thoughts in US adults nearly doubled in June, CDC says

Nearly 11% of United States adults reported seriously contemplating suicide in June. That is nearly double the percentage who did so last summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated.

According to a report released Thursday, the CDC asked 5,412 participants in a survey if they seriously considered suicide in the 30 days preceding the survey performed the last week of June. The findings revealed that 10.7% of Americans reported contemplating suicide compared to 4.3% who reported the same thing throughout 2018. The study also found that 40% of Americans reported some form of mental health issue or substance abuse related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The percentages were far higher in certain groups, including essential workers and ethnic and racial minorities. The study found that the groups with the highest rates of suicide ideation were unpaid caregivers for adults, citing 30% who contemplated it in June. The other group highly affected was the 18- to 24 age group with 25% reporting having those thoughts.

Ethnic and racial minority groups were found to be disproportionately affected as well.  The report said 15.1% of Black and 18.6% of Hispanic Americans reported seriously thinking about suicide in June.

Besides an increase in suicide ideation, the study found that there was also an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety. The rate of depression symptoms quadrupled in number and anxiety tripled compared to the second quarter of 2019.

About 13% of those surveyed said they increased or started using substances to cope with stress during June.

Results show significant increase in signs of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts :CDC

The authors of the report stated factors need to be investigated such as social isolation, unemployment and financial concerns, lack of school structure, and forms of violence, to see how they serve as additional stressors. The report pointed out that the increased percentages of these mental and behavioral health effects highlights the impact this pandemic has on the population. The study authors stated the report also helped with “identification of populations at increased risk for psychological distress and unhealthy coping.” It suggested expanded use of telehealth to provide services to those in need and suggested future studies to identify drivers of adverse mental and behavioral health during the COVID-19 pandemic and community programs.

The suicide prevention lifeline stated on their website the following warning signs may help determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide. It stated if the behavior has increased, is new, or is related to a recent loss or painful event, seek help by calling the lifeline.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain 
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Extreme mood swings

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and will connect the caller to a certified crisis center near where the call is placed and is available 24 hours a day.