The Centers for Disease Control released its biennial Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report for 2021, and things do not look good:
Nearly three in five teenage girls felt persistent sadness in 2021, double the rate of boys, and one in three girls seriously considered attempting suicide, according to data released on Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The findings, based on surveys given to teenagers across the country, also showed high levels of violence, depression and suicidal thoughts among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth. More than one in five of these students reported attempting suicide in the year before the survey, the agency found.
The rates of sadness are the highest reported in a decade, reflecting a long-brewing national tragedy only made worse by the isolation and stress of the pandemic.
“I think there’s really no question what this data is telling us,” said Dr. Kathleen Ethier, head of the C.D.C.’s adolescent and school health program. “Young people are telling us that they are in crisis.”
No kidding, says writer Kate Woodsome:
Solutions start with compassionate, radical honesty: American kids are unwell because American society is unwell. The systems and social media making teenagers sad, angry and afraid today were shaped in part by adults who grew up sad, angry and afraid themselves.
One in 5 [adults] — nearly 53 million people — had a mental illness in 2020, ranging from anxiety to depression to bipolar disorder. Nearly 28 million adults had an alcohol use disorder. As many as 3 in 100 people will have a psychotic episode in their lives. We are running companies and the country, serving time and raising families, and we, too, need a sense that we are cared for, supported and belong.
It can be hard for adults to believe that, especially if our own childhoods suggested otherwise. As kids, 61 percent of adults in the United States experienced abuse or neglect, grew up with poverty, hunger, violence or substance abuse, experienced gender-based discrimination and racism or lost a parent to divorce or death. These stressors contribute to chronic health problems, mental illness and substance misuse down the line.
If not you, then someone you know is doing their best to stitch up those invisible wounds.
Similar thoughts from Jill Filipovic:
It’s perhaps not surprising that significant numbers of girls and LGBTQ kids are hopeless, despondent, and potentially suicidal given that large numbers of girls and LGBTQ kids have been raped, sexually assaulted, and bullied. It’s not surprising that teenage girls and LGBTQ teens have absorbed the broader cultural backlash currently being waged against them, with abortion rights being rolled back, LGBT rights under attack, and the very basic right to read and learn suddenly hot culture war issues. Too many American teenagers have just spent far too long in isolation as schools shuttered, then remained only partially open, and as the usual activities of teenage life were suddenly slowed or halted. And then teens reentered a world of other under-socialized adolescents who had also missed crucial months or even years of social development, and had spent much more of their time in online spaces.
I live about 300 meters from a large public high school. Sometimes when I walk Cassie past it in the morning I see hundreds of kids queueing up outside the doors. It took me a while to realize they have to go through metal detectors and bag searches to get in. An entire generation of high school kids has grown up in prison. No wonder they're sad and anxious.