Suicide rate hit 40-year peak among older teen girls in 2015
By Susan Scutti, CNN
Updated 5:19 PM ET, Thu August 3, 2017
The suicide rate among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 reached a 40-year high in 2015, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
In the shorter term, the suicide rate for those girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, the research indicates.
These data show that between 2007 and 2015, there’s substantial increases in suicide rates for both young males and young females,” said Tom Simon, an author of the report and associate director for science in the division of violence protection at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published the new data Thursday.
“For young males, there was a 31% increase in suicide rates, and for young females, the suicide rate doubled,” Simon said.
Specifically, the suicide rate for males between 15 and 19 increased from 12 per 100,000 population in 1975 to 18.1 per 100,000 in 1990. It then declined to 10.8 per 100,000 by 2007 and then increased again to 14.2 per 100,000 by 2015.
Among females, the suicide rate increased from 2.9 per 100,000 in 1975 to 3.7 per 100,000 in 1990, dipped to 2.4 per 100,000 in 2007 and then spiked to 5.1 per 100,000 in 2015.
“We know that overall in the US, we’re seeing increases in suicide rates across all age groups,” Simon said, putting the new report in perspective.<
“We’re not seeing the same kind of increases among the oldest adults, but we are seeing substantial and sustained increases now for the other age groups really going back to 2000,” he said, adding that the the pattern is “pretty robust.”
Carl Tishler, an adjunct associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Ohio State University who was not involved in the report, said the high suicide rates among older teens in 2015 “could be the result of a lot of things.”
“Some of the opiate or heroin overdoses in adolescents may be interpreted by emergency departments as suicides. There may be more Internet suicides,” Tishler said.
Simon said it’s “unlikely” that increases in suicide rates are due to any single factor. Possible risk factors for suicide include a history of substance abuse, exposure to violence, social isolation, conflict within relationships, stigma and a lack of available support.<
Simon suggested that the lingering effects of the Great Recession in the late 2000s may have contributed to stress within families, causing anxiety in teens.
“In times of economic prosperity, suicide rates go down,” he said. “In times of economic instability, suicide rates go up.”
Social media can have either negative or positive effects, Simon said. Cyberbullying and harmful content might push a vulnerable teen toward self-harm, yet “social media can help increase connections between people, and it’s an opportunity to correct myths about suicide and to allow people to access prevention resources and materials.”
’13 Reasons Why’ tied to rise in suicide searches online
Dorian A. Lamis, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine/Grady Health System, theorized that use of social media and cyberbullying may affect teenage girls more than boys, resulting in rising suicide deaths among older teen girls.
“Some research has suggested that the timing of puberty in girls is a contributing factor for the increased suicide rate,” said Lamis, who was not involved in the new research. Puberty starts as early as 8 in some girls. The psychosocial and physical changes may leave girls “vulnerable to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders earlier on in life.” These known risk factors for suicide may catch up with a girl as she grows older.
Tishler noted that previous studies from the CDC have indicated that males take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of females and thus represent 77.9% of all suicides. Yet females are more likely than males to have suicidal thoughts.
Family finds clues to teen’s suicide in blue whale paintings
Ways to Give
American SPCC is a 501(c) 3 top-rated nonprofit organization (federal tax ID 27-4621515).
Charitable donations are tax deductible.