More and more American girls are attempting suicide, overdosing on drugs, cutting themselves and undergoing all sorts of self-injurious behavior, according to a long-term study of emergency room visits.
There is no clear reason for the sudden uptick, but mental health professionals think that cyberbullying, substance abuse and economic stress from the recession might be big factors, TIME reports.
These rising rates “should be of concern to parents, teachers and pediatricians. One important reason to focus on reducing self-harm is that it is key risk factor for suicide,”
said Mark Olfson, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University who was not involved in the study.
The highest increase happened in girls between the ages of 10 and 14, with numbers nearly tripling from 2009 to 2015. There were about 110 visits per 100,000 then to almost 318 per 100,000 in 2015. Older teenage girls had the highest rates at 633 visits per 100,000 in 2015, but the increase among them since 2008 was much less.
Drug overdoses and poisonings were the most common suicide attempt methods among both girls and boys, followed by self-harm using pointed objects.
While all of the injuries were intentional, not all were suicide attempts, according to Melissa Mercado, behavioral scientist and lead author on the study. The research was carried out under the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers examined data from 2001-2015 on non-fatal self-inflicted injuries treated in emergency rooms among adolescents and young adults between 10 and 24 years old. During the 15 years of study, close to 29,000 girls and 14,000 boys were admitted to emergency rooms for self-inflicted injuries.
The study authors reported that these findings emphasize the importance of stepping up prevention efforts, including finding ways to reach out to isolated kids in order to help them connect to their peers and teach them how to cope and problem-solve.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.