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CDC: Over 1 in 4 young adults contemplated suicide in June amid COVID-19

The pandemic is taking a toll on mental health

CDC Director Robert Redfield/(Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than one quarter of young adults in the U.S. considered killing themselves in the month of June, a startling statistic that lays bare the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on mental health.

What are the details?

In a survey of 5,412 adults conducted June 24-30, 25.5% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 reported "having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey," the agency reported. To compare, that is more than double the percentage of adults overall who reported suicidal ideations during the time period, at 10.7%.

The CDC found that young adults were hit harder in other mental health areas, including "symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder, COVID-19-related [trauma- and stressor-related disorder] TSRD, initiation of or increase in substance use to cope with COVID-19-associated stress," noting that "prevalence decreased progressively with age."

Just over 40% of all the adults survey reported having at least one adverse mental or behavior health condition in June, and that percentage jumped to 74.9% among those in the 18-24 subgroup.

The numbers confirm the fears CDC Director Robert Redfield expressed last month, when he warned that younger people would be at greater health risk of suicide, drug abuse, and influenza than from exposure to the coronavirus.

Redfield, who has advocated for the reopening of schools, said during a Buck Institute webinar, "There has been another cost that we've seen, particularly in high schools. We're seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID."

He added, "We're seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID."

'Increased instances of depression'

While the young have been hardest hit, The Washington Examiner noted that "the pandemic has contributed to increased instances of depression and anxiety across all age groups," according to the CDC's numbers.

The outlet reported:

Public health experts have warned that unemployment and financial hardship would contribute to increases in mental health issues. CDC analysts suggested Thursday that any intervention at the local level and prevention efforts include strengthening economic support systems to reduce financial stress, as well as to address racial disparities in healthcare.
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