In a study from April 2019 to April 2020, self-harm claims rose by 333 percent and overdoses by 120 percent in teenagers ages 13 to 18.
Pediatrician Dr. Jen Trachtenberg says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in mental health concerns in teens in her practice. She is seeing higher incidence of depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, and self-harm.
The warning signs that parents need to look out for include:
- Vague complaints about not feeling well or having unexplained headaches or stomach aches
- A teen not wanting to do anything
- Isolation and wanting to be left alone
- A decrease in academic performance
- Negative self-talk
- Changes in behavior and a lack of personal hygiene
- Self-harm like cuts, bite marks, burns, and pulling hair out
Dr. Jen says to keep communication open with your child and tell them what you are observing, but stop yourself from telling your teen how they are feeling. She also stresses it is important for a teen in crisis to know parents are there to support them and get them any help they need. Also, she recommends parents seek professional help from a therapist, psychologist, or school counselor if needed.
For more information and resources on suicide prevention, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-TALK, or visit The Suicide Prevention Resource Center website.