Adverse childhood experiences are traumatic events that occur prior to age 18. They are associated with increased risk of chronic disease, changes in behavior, depression, and suicidal behaviors.
Some examples of these harmful events include electronic bullying, teen dating violence, food insecurity, caregiver loss, and emotional abuse.
Out of 4,000 teen high school students, nearly 75% reported having one adverse childhood experience during the pandemic. Those with one or two were twice as likely to have poorer mental health as those with none.
Research showed those with four or more were 25 times as likely to have had suicide attempts and their mental health was four times as worse than those without.
Those experiencing four or more traumatic events were also three times as likely to have persistent feelings of hopeless or sadness compared to those with none.
Because suicide has been one of the leading causes of death among high school aged teens, more research is needed to address the influence the pandemic has had on mental health in this vulnerable population.