Year: 2023 Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (2023). 20(2), 1619. SIEC No: 20230288
The COVID-19 pandemic and response, which included physical distancing and stay-at-home orders, disrupted the daily lives of children and adolescents, isolating them from their peers, school, and other meaningful contacts. The present study aims to add to the accumulating evidence on the pandemic’s impact on child and adolescent suicidal behavior. Data were extracted from Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel’s pediatric emergency room (ER) admissions for psychiatric consultation for suicidal-risk assessment between 1 January 2020, and 16 April 2022. We applied time-lagged cross-correlation analysis and a Granger causality test to assess the temporal relationships between COVID-19 infection waves and patterns of suicide-related ER admissions. The results revealed a significant lagged correlation between national COVID-19 infection rates and ER admission rates. The highest correlation was above 0.4 and was found with a lag of 80 to 100 days from infection rate to ER admission rate. The findings show that the effects of public crises change over time and may be lagged. This may have important implications for mental health services’ readiness to serve growing numbers of children and adolescents at risk for suicide.