Suicide Rate Hit 40-Year Peak Among Older Teen Girls in 2015
Jim Liebelt Jim Liebelt's Blog
- 2017 Aug 14
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on CNN.
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.
By comparison, the 2015 suicide rate for boys in this age group was lower than in the peak years of the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. The researchers derived suicide rates from official data from death certificates.
"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.
"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."
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.
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."