Youth suicide rates in Georgia increased during COVID-19 pandemic

Study: 1-in-13 impacted
Posted at 6:34 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 18:34:16-04

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — The Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on the mental health in Children ages 10-19; with that number increasing from pre-pandemic to 2020.

"You're one and a half times more likely to to attempt suicide if you're living in a rural community than if you're living in an urban area," Richard Hughes said.

Hughes is with Georgia Pines and says their facility has seen an increase of people looking for mental health services since the pandemic began.

One of the most impacted communities he's seen: rural areas.

"Their is a lack of services in general mental health services for people to reach out to when they do want to," Hughes said.

To look at the impact the pandemic has had on suicide rates.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that looked at 85,102 suicides in 14 states from 2015 to 2020.

The journal says that in Georgia, there were around 106 suicides in 2020 in kids ages 10 to 19. That number went up from 88 suicides from the previous six years.

Elijah Miranda is the Executive Director of the Vashtai Center in Thomasville.

The organization provides youth services, a long with outpatient mental health services.

He says when COVID-19 shut social events, the mental health of teenagers and mental health took a toll.

"It's part of their development. We are hardwired as humans for connection, to build relationships," Miranda said.

The Vashti Center has also seen an increase for mental health services in the six counties they serve, including Thomas, Brooks and Decatur counties.

Miranda adds that here in south Georgia and Thomas County, there are people ready to help families impacted by the pandemic.

"I think you know, what's so important is giving back to the community, letting be aware that these services are available for their children," Miranda said.