CDC reports: One in four young adults contemplated suicide during COVID-19 pandemic

Data released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds US adults continue to experience increased adverse behavioral health conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report finds that essential workers, young adults, racial and ethnic minorities, and unpaid adult caregivers disproportionately experience these harmful conditions.



At the end of June, 5,400 individuals completed a CDC survey aimed at assessing mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation. Of that group, 40.9% reported at least one mental or behavioral health condition. Thirty-one percent reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, 26.3% reported symptoms of trauma- and stressor-related disorder, and 13.3% reported started or increased substance use to cope.


Image: CDC


Overall, 11 percent of respondents reported that they had seriously considered suicide in the previous month. For young adults aged 18-24 years, that number rose to 1 in 4 reporting having seriously considered suicide. Suicide ideation was also significantly higher among Hispanic respondents (18.6%), Black respondents (15.1%), self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults (30.7%), and essential workers (21.7%).

The percent of respondents reporting negative mental or behavioral health conditions also varied by age, race/ethnicity, and profession. Three-fourths of those aged 18-24 years reported at least one symptom along with 51.9% of those 25-44 years. Fifty-two percent of Hispanic respondents, 66.2% of those with less than a high school diploma, 66.6% of unpaid adult caregivers, and 54% of essential workers reported at least one adverse symptom.

Symptoms of anxiety disorder are now three times more prevalent (25.5% vs. 8.1%) compared to the second quarter of 2019, reads the report, and depressive disorder symptoms are now four times higher (24.3% vs. 6.5%).

“Markedly elevated prevalences of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions. Identification of populations at increased risk for psychological distress and unhealthy coping can inform policies to address health inequity, including increasing access to resources for clinical diagnoses and treatment options,” reads the report.

The report states that future studies should look to identify the drivers of these adverse behavioral health symptoms during the pandemic and look at the role additional stressors – such as social isolation, financial worries, or violence – might play.

“Community-level intervention and prevention efforts should include strengthening economic supports to reduce financial strain, addressing stress from experienced racial discrimination, promoting social connectedness, and supporting persons at risk for suicide,” it concludes.