CDC: One quarter of young adults contemplated suicide during pandemic

One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 say they've considered suicide in the past month because of the pandemic, according to new CDC data that paints a bleak picture of the nation's mental health during the crisis.

The data also flags a surge of anxiety and substance abuse, with more than 40 percent of those surveyed saying they experienced a mental or behavioral health condition connected to the Covid-19 emergency. The CDC study analyzed 5,412 survey respondents between June 24 and 30.

The toll is falling heaviest on young adults, caregivers, essential workers and minorities. While 10.7 percent of respondents overall reported considering suicide in the previous 30 days, 25.5 percent of those between 18 to 24 reported doing so. Almost 31 percent of self-reported unpaid caregivers and 22 percent of essential workers also said they harbored such thoughts. Hispanic and Black respondents similarly were well above the average.

Roughly 30.9 percent of respondents said they had symptoms of anxiety or depression. Roughly 26.3 respondents reported trauma and stress-related disorder because of the pandemic.


Another 13.3 percent of respondents said they have turned to substance use, including alcohol and prescription or illicit drugs, to cope with stress from the pandemic.

More than half of respondents who identified as essential workers reported some kind of adverse mental health or behavioral health condition related to the Covid-19 emergency.

The anonymous internet survey was based on self reporting and didn't cover clinical diagnoses.

The background: Federal officials and public health experts have been warning about a potential mental health crisis stemming from the pandemic, though there's been little national data so far.

States and the federal government have some data showing an increase in drug overdose deaths in the first several months of the year, amid lockdowns, economic uncertainty and added stress caused by the pandemic.

What's next: Researchers, in the study, recommended that any community-level intervention and prevention efforts include strengthening economic supports to reduce financial stress, and to address racial disparities in health care. They also suggest expanding access to social supports, comprehensive treatments and harm reduction services.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text with an emotional support counselor with the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.