Background: Emerging literature has highlighted the detrimental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth mental health including increased depressive symptoms due to quarantine stressors such as social isolation, loss of structure, and fears of infection. Risk factors for pediatric suicidality include the presence of mental disorders and adverse life events such as academic or social stressors. It remains unclear how different school-age youth were impacted by the lockdowns. This exploratory study will examine youth seeking hospitalization for issues related to suicidality during the pandemic and seek to identify the reported frequency of specific COVID-19 related stressors.
Methods: 142 patients (99 females and 43 males) were hospitalized from April 1st to June 30th, 2020 and evaluated for concerns related to suicidal ideation or attempt. A retrospective chart review was conducted to analyze various variables, including patient demographics and specific COVID-related stressors. This is an exploratory, hypothesis-generating, descriptive study— examinations will include generating frequencies and descriptive analyses.
Results: Among patients presenting to BCH for suicidal ideation and/or attempt, various stressors unique to the COVID-19 pandemic were identified, including caregiver or patient with COVID-19, anxiety about self or family members contracting COVID, loss of school or structure, loss of therapeutic supports, and quarantine/social isolation effect. The majority of patients admitted from April to June 2020 identified a COVID-19 stressor.
Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic and its unique stressors played a significant role for youth hospitalized for suicidal ideation or attempt between April and June 2020. Future studies will examine this question over a longer period of time. Current trends suggest that the impact of COVID-related stressors will continue to grow.