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Suicidal thoughts, depression 'increased dramatically' among female, LGBQ+ teens: CDC report

Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey revealed that anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts "increased dramatically" among female and LGBQ+ teens in 2021, the New York Post reported.

On Monday, the CDC released its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which tracks health-related trends among teens and adults, including sexual behavior, substance use, experiences of violence, mental health, and suicidality.

The CDC's survey indicated that sadness, hopelessness, poor mental health, suicidal thoughts, and attempted suicide among high school students increased in the last decade.

The report noted a decrease in risky sexual behavior, substance use, and school bullying.

"Unfortunately, almost all other indicators of health and well-being in this report including protective sexual behaviors (i.e., condom use, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, and HIV testing), experiences of violence, mental health, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors worsened significantly," the report stated.

The CDC found that more female students refused to attend school because of an increased safety concern about sexual violence. In addition, an increased number of male students also refused to attend school, citing experiences of electronic bullying.

According to the survey, nearly 60% of female students experienced "persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness," nearly double the rate of male teens. Approximately 25% of females admitted to creating a suicide plan in 2021.

For comparison, in 2011, only 36% of female students reported feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

"Close to 70% of LGBQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year and more than 50% had poor mental health during the past 30 days," it added. "Almost 25% attempted suicide during the past year."

More than 40% of high school students reported feelings of sadness or hopelessness that prevented them from participating in regular activities for at least two weeks during the last year. Approximately 10% of students reported having attempted suicide one or more times during the past year, while 18% admitted to making a suicide plan.

CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health Director Kathleen Ethier stated that the findings are "alarming."

"Many measures were moving in the wrong direction before the pandemic," Ethier stated. "These data show the mental health crisis among young people continues."

"Young people are experiencing a level of distress that calls on us to act with urgency and compassion," Ethier added. "With the right programs and services in place, schools have the unique ability to help our youth flourish."

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