A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control found that 25% of people aged 18 to 24 reported considering taking their own life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of youth are feeling very isolated from their families. They’re feeling very isolated from their communities, from school and a lot of anxiety just due to this level of uncertainty. Not knowing what’s going to come next or where to find the answers,” said Maisha Smith, a licensed clinical social worker with the Institute of Living.
Not knowing whether they are going to have a prom or what college will look like has been a struggle for young people.
“People are just upset with their parents. You know, it’s the little things that kind of nip at you all day and you’re not able to release. People aren’t necessarily able to go to therapy, like the therapist and psychiatrist, right now and sometimes those are just things you need to talk about, the little things,” Skyler Rivera said.
Rivera is a warm line operator for Join Rise Be, which is a peer-to-peer hotline. The Join Rise Be Hotline is 1-855-6-HOPENOW or 1-855-6-467-3669.
There’s also the fear of COVID-19.
“It eats away at you, the thought of what if I do have it. It already feeds into everything because we’re already dealing with our mental health issues and things like that,” Rivera said.
“Obviously the pandemic exacerbates what’s going on,” Smith said.
Smith said on top of those startling numbers is a concern over disparities in health equity and access to mental health services. The Congressional Black Caucus issued a report in December showing suicide attempts by black adolescents of both sexes rose 73% from 1991 to 2017.
“There’s this longstanding history of mistrust in the system due to racial inequities in terms of seeking medical services, seeking behavioral services. There’s also a stigma as well, especially in the black community, about mental health,” Smith said.
But Smith said everyone needs someone to talk to and the pandemic makes that challenging.
“There’s a lot of tension in homes right now so that has also led to an increase in domestic violence and crises that are happening within families,” Smith said.
But there are still options for people that might need help. Anyone with suicidal thoughts can reach out to the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.