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How did calls to 112 related with the suicide of minors evolve before and after the pandemic?

Miriam Marco, Antonio López-Quílez, Marisol Lila, Enrique Gracia, Pablo Escobar-Hernández and María Montagud-Andrés, Universitat de València
Project selected in the Social Research Call 2021

Covid-19 had a major impact on all spheres of society. Since the health emergency was declared over, great concern has emerged regarding problems relating to mental health issues and the possible increase in suicidal behaviours, especially among young people, but so has heightened sensitivity and awareness regarding them. With the aim of analysing this problem, an examination has been conducted on the evolution of suicide-related calls made to the 112 emergency service regarding minors in the Valencian Community between 2018 and 2022. The results indicate that during the pandemic, a considerable increase in these calls took place, specifically in relation to girls, although they also indicate a slowing of this increase at the start of 2023. Moreover, an increase has occurred in cases that mention a problem of depression or anxiety, above all in girls, as well as an increase in those with reports of suicidal ideation and self-harming, with or without suicidal intention. The results underline the importance of taking gender into account, given that it provides us with relevant information when proposing more specific prevention strategies.
Key points
  • 1
       Since lockdown, calls made to the 112 emergency service relating to suicide by minors have increased drastically in the Valencian Community, especially in the case of girls. Despite this, the increase started to slow down in mid-2022, although the figures remain much higher than those from prior to the pandemic.
  • 2
       In the case of girls, during the covid-19 crisis, calls doubled with respect to the previous period, reaching an average of 42 calls per month. In the case of boys, they increased from an average of 12 calls per month to 19. The maximum peaks in calls coincided with the fifth and sixth waves, which mainly affected young people.
  • 3
       The distribution of calls according to age remained constant over both periods, in boys and girls alike, although there was a higher rate of suicide-related calls in young people aged between 15 and 17 years.
  • 4
       During the pandemic, references increased to problems of depression and anxiety in girls, while in boys there was an increase in mentions of other psychiatric disorders, and it was reported with a higher frequency that the minors in question were in treatment at the time of the suicidal behaviour.
  • 5
       During covid-19, mentions of self-harming and suicidal ideation experienced a strong increase in both sexes, but there was a slight decrease in threats and attempts at suicide. Furthermore, calls that informed that it was not the first time that the minor involved had attempted suicide doubled.
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