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FIRST ON FOX: Several House Republicans sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calling on the agency to release data on child suicide in 2021.
Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., directed the letter along with 19 of his lower house GOP colleagues to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, asking the agency to release the as yet unpublished data.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a deepening crisis in our society: the mental health of our children,” Steil said in a press release first obtained by Fox News Digital. “Data on child suicide rates is an important tool needed to strengthen our mental health infrastructure.”
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“As we approach the upcoming school year, this critical data will help us make informed decisions to support our children and improve their mental health,” he continued.
In the letter, lawmakers ask Walensky to “work with ‘members of Congress’ to resolve this long-standing issue that has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We understand that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not released data on child suicide rates for 2021,” they wrote. “While we note that the interim data has been released, we ask why the CDC has not released the final data which is a critical indicator of our nation’s mental health.”
The lawmakers wrote that childhood “is a critical time for preventing and treating mental health” and that half “of all mental illnesses occur before a person reaches the age of 14”.
Steil and Republicans also said “the number of children admitted to children’s hospitals for thoughts of suicide or self-harm has doubled since 2016.”
“Clearly, even before the pandemic, America was experiencing a mental health crisis among children and adolescents,” they wrote, continuing to write that the COVID-19 pandemic “has further exacerbated this problem and strained the healthcare system, leaving children with mental health issues unsatisfied.” health needs. »
“During the pandemic, school closures, social restrictions and disrupted routines have placed considerable stress on children and their families,” they wrote. “These developments have limited access to many resources children rely on to cope with stress and anxiety.”
Lawmakers called the statistics “frightening and mind-boggling” and cited previous CDC data from “mid-March 2020 through October of that year” which, compared to data from 2019, showed “emergency room visits related to mental health among children aged 5-11 increased by 24%.
They also noted the 31% increase for “adolescents aged 12 to 17” over the same period.
“The suicide statistics are even more appalling,” wrote Steil and his colleagues. “According to a May 2020 CDC study, ER visits for suicide attempts among teens ages 12 to 17 were 39% higher than the same time in 2019.”
“The problem is compounded by the fact that in the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24,” they continued.
The Republicans concluded their letter by saying the data “shows the magnitude of the crisis we face” and that the government “must take long-overdue steps to bolster our mental health infrastructure ‘if it wants’.” better meet the needs of our children.
“This must be a top priority,” Steil and his colleagues concluded. “We are ready to work with you to meet these challenges.”
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Joining Steil on the letter are Republicans from across the party spectrum, including Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, Greg Murphy of North Carolina and Kat Cammack of Florida.
The CDC did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the letter.