Suicide rates among teenage girls continue to increase, hitting a 40-year high in 2015, according to a new study.
Thomas Simon, CDC suicide expert, said that the numbers are part of a growing trend across the country. “There has been a substantial increase in suicide rates in adolescents aged 15 to 19 between 2007 and 2015,” he said.
Nationally overall we have been seeing an increase in suicide rates that is pretty pervasive among all age groups.
Suicide rates on the whole have jumped by 28% since 2000, he added.
The analysis comes from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, and compares trends for the past 40 years. It discovered that the suicide rates for males ages 15 to 19 increased from 12 per 100,000 to 18 per 100,000 from 1975 to 1990. The numbers dropped from 1990 to 2007, but began rising again to 14 per 100,000 teenage boys by 2015.
The study authors said, “Rates for females aged 15–19 were lower than for males aged 15–19 but followed a similar pattern during 1975–2007. The rate in 2015 was the highest for females for the 1975–2015 period.”
In 2007, there were 4,320 deaths by suicide among adolescents and young adults up to 24 years old, making suicide one of the top four causes of death for the same age bracket. In 2015, it rose to 5,900 people ages 10 to 24 who died by suicide.
Dr. Christine Moutier of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said, “This increase in suicide rate is very concerning.”
There are many factors involved, both Moutier and Simon stated. “It is really important to understand that suicide happens as a culmination of multiple risk factors, always multiple, that pile on top and sort of converge at a moment in time,” Moutier said.
Simon explained, “One of the factors that people have talked about as potential contributor to the trend is the economic downturn that we saw in 2007-2009. As economic problems go up, suicide rates go up.” Families were affected as a whole. “There is reason to believe that economic turmoil, financial stresses experienced by parents, can also affect vulnerable youth.”
The CDC said that violence is also another primary factor, the most obvious example being cyberbullying. “Exposure to violence (e.g., child abuse and neglect, bullying, peer violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence) is associated with increased risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, suicide, and suicide attempts,” the analysis stated.
Moutier agreed, “On the one hand, kids are at younger and younger ages, are being exposed to all sorts of influences via social media and so, one example that could do harm to a child who is at risk of mental health problems or suicide is that they are experiencing and perceiving themselves and the world around them through a lens that might be distorted by depression.”
Simon stressed that suicide is preventable, and parents, family members, friends and teachers can and should be on the lookout for people who are at risk. He said, “If they are vulnerable, it is important not to leave that person alone.”
The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.