Terrifying and mysterious. Terrifying, of course, because the pandemic and the resulting conclusions at school caused enormous psychological harm to the children. Mystifying, because I can’t understand why the gender difference would be as dramatic as it is.
Why would months of isolation make girls despair to the point of self-harm with a much higher percentage of boys?
Is there an obvious explanation or will we be forced to resort to some half-gender stereotype such as “girls are more sensitive” or “girls socialize more”?
Maybe this is a stereotype with a reason.
The new study, which is based on data from the National Syndrome Monitoring Program, shows that adolescent girls aged 12 to 17 visit emergency rooms for alleged suicide attempts 50.6% more often in the winter of 2021. from the respective period in 2019
The rate of suspected suicide attempts among adolescents and adults of both sexes aged 18 to 25 remains stable, compared to the corresponding period in 2019
“The findings of this study suggest more serious distress among young women than was found in previous reports during the pandemic, reinforcing the need for increased attention and prevention for this population,” the report said.
So not only adolescents were not more likely to attempt suicide and ultimately need emergency care than they were before the pandemic, even the next oldest group of women – young women aged 18 -25 years – were not more inclined. The only cohort of young Americans who saw a huge boom were high school and high school girls.
My first thought in the treatment was that maybe during normal times, teenagers are much more likely to try to commit suicide than teenage girls. In this case, months of isolation during a pandemic may have forced some girls to break up, which would otherwise be fine, increasing the rate of suicide attempts by gender among boys. Two problems, however. First: If boys are more likely to attempt suicide during normal times, won’t we expect to see a jump in their pace during a pandemic?
Second: In fact, it is not true that boys are more likely to go to the emergency room for suicide attempts before COVID. In fact, the opposite.
The top graphic is girls, the bottom graphic is boys. As you can see, the teenage girls landed in the emergency room for suicide reasons at a rate two to three times faster than the boys in early 2019. Which, on the one hand, helps explain the huge jump between last year and this: Girls may be more likely to attempt suicide than boys for some reason and therefore have had a more severe reaction to isolation. But that still won’t explain the stable percentage among boys. Even if boys are less likely to land in the emergency room than commit suicide, why didn’t they attempt suicide more often last year?
Is it possible that boys’ daily lives are not as disrupted as girls during quarantine because they involve more independent activity? For example, assuming that boys are more likely to play video games in their spare time than girls, perhaps boys’ lives have not changed as much as COVID. They were still playing online with friends and thus establishing some social contact.
A friend on Twitter suggested that there may be fewer boys landing in the suicide emergency room last year because there were more accidental drug overdoses during the same period. That is, if it’s true that boys are more likely to abuse drugs than girls (right?), Maybe some boys who were depressed enough to take a lot of drugs and who * would * have * attempted suicide would end up. account end up in emergency overdoses instead – or, worse, end up dead before they can commit suicide. In other words, the fact that there were fewer boys in need of hospital treatment for suicide attempts does not mean that there were fewer boys who resorted to acts of despair in the darkness of the pandemic.
But there is a problem with this theory as well. If there are gender differences in overdose, why has the frequency of emergency visits for suicide attempts been stable among men and women aged 18-25? We need to see the same kind of gender division there, right?
I wonder if the answer here lies in the fact that we are not talking about suicide attempts among teenagers in general, but rather about suicide attempts ended with a trip to the ER. Is it possible for boys to use more lethal means to attempt suicide (say weapons), while girls use less lethal means (pills)? If so, then the same number of suicide attempts between the sexes would not mean the same number of emergency visits. Many boys would be found dead at the scene and would not be taken to hospital, while many girls would still survive a deliberate overdose if taken to the emergency department and treated promptly. Does this explain the discrepancy? If so, uh, how does it explain why the number of girls has increased this year, but boys have not? Did the boys just reliably use deadly measures in their suicide attempts?