"Our society was demonstrating measurable increases in suicidal and self-injurious behavior, as well as eating disorders, even before the COVID-19 pandemic started, but all signs suggest that the pandemic worsened these problems long-term," says Edward Selby, PhD, Core Faculty, Rutgers Institute of Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, and Director of Clinical Training and Associate Professor in Rutgers University's Department of Psychology. 

Dr. Edward Selby is available for comment on factors contributing to the prevalence of these issues and his work on the topic.

“Social media proved to be a robust way of facilitating harmful information promoting self-injurious behaviors and pro-eating disorders and/or pro-anorexia material. A second source for these problems is an increasing level of stress for youth due to the pandemic, and in terms of navigating an ever-changing world where prospects for economic success can be impeded by student loan debt, challenges with inequity, and a dearth of strong employment opportunities."

“My work focuses on how people respond to and manage their emotions (known as emotion regulation). Adolescents and youth who haven't had the opportunity to learn emotion regulation skills are particularly prone to self-injury and eating disorders, which is why it's so important to create interventions that help youth learn how to cope with stress in healthy ways,” says Dr. Selby.