PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Another deadly toll from the pandemic. An increase in suicides among young people, according to a new study released Wednesday.
Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for people ages between the ages of 5 to 24. The new study says there was a significant increase in 2020, the height of the pandemic.
Lockdowns and school shutdowns during the first year of the pandemic left many young people feeling depressed, anxious and isolated. Now, new research in the journal Pediatrics finds youth suicide rates increased in 2020.
More than 5,500 died by suicide, 79% were male and 50% died by firearm.
"That really highlights the need for safe storage of firearms in the home," Jeff Bridge said. "If you're a parent and you own guns, storing them safely is paramount to reducing risk for suicide."
Dr. Bridge is the director of the Center for Suicide Prevention at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He authored the study that also found more suicides during the pandemic compared to before COVID-19.
And they happened more among Non-Hispanic American Indians, Alaskan natives and Black teenagers.
"We really need to tailor our suicide prevention strategies through a culturally informed lens," Bridge said.
Researchers say suicide is preventable if those interventions can get to the young people most in need at school and at home.
"There are several school-based suicide prevention programs," Bridge said. "It is okay to ask your child if they're thinking about suicide that will not put the thought in your child's head. There is very strong evidence that refutes that notion. Have that conversation."
Dr. Bridge says we need to have those mental health conversations with our children because it is just as important as their physical health.
If you or someone you know needs help, it's just a phone call away.
Dial 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Counselors are available round the clock for people in emotional distress.
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