Suicide rates among teen girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years old have hit a 40-year high, according to data released from the National Center for Health Statistics. It means that the number of girls committing suicide doubled between 2007 and 2015.
In 1975, the number of girls who died by suicide rose from 2.9 per every 100,000 to 3.7 per 100,000 in 1990. It decreased to 2.4 per the same amount in 2007 and then increased again to 5.1 in 2015.
According to researchers based on suicide rates from official data in death certificates, the suicide rate for boys of the same age was much lower, even in their peak of the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s.
Lead researcher and associate director for science in the Division of Violence Protection at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tom Simon, stated:
“For young males, there was a 31% increase in suicide rates, and for young females, the suicide rate doubled,” Simon said.
What’s the cause?
Researchers are not entirely sure what’s the cause of the unbelievable peak in suicide deaths in 2015. But experts told CNN it could be a combination of many things, like cyber bullying, academic pressure, social isolation, conflict within relationships, stigma, exposure to violence, lack of available support and undiagnosed mental disorders.
Indeed, girls are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and to attempt suicide more often. But there is something nobody understands, and it’s the fact that no matter the critical peak that shows an increase in suicide deaths in girls, men and boys still represent 78% of the total amount of these kinds of deaths according to statistics from the CDC.
Experts believe that it might be due to the ways each gender choose to do it. Men usually resort to hanging or shooting themselves. Women, on the other hand, have more chances of survival by using methods like drug overdoses.
“We know that overall in the US, we’re seeing increases in suicide rates across all age groups,” Simon stated. “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.”
Suicide has the second place when talking about causes of death in people between the ages of 10 and 34. According to the CDC, more than 44,000 people committed suicide in 2015. More than a million people take their own life every year.
“Some of the opiate or heroin overdoses in adolescents may be interpreted by emergency departments as suicides. There may be more Internet suicides” said Carl Tisher, adjunct associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Ohio State University.
Tisher claims that this peak for suicides among teens in 2015 “could be the result of a lot of things.” He was not involved in the research.
What about these late years?
Social media plays a critical role in this kind of events. People are becoming more open, expressing more about their lives and being less intimate. Surely social media can be useful, but a lot of people still don’t know how harmful it can be. Millennials are the first generation growing up around Web 2.0.
“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.” Simon noted it can be a great way to help others when noticing some warnings or signs of suicide risk.
Although medication is controversial when talking about depression, experts say it can help and reduce psychomotor retardation, which is a symptom of the disease. It can help people to feel a little more active, make them feel better and less sad. But psychotropic drugs usually come with warnings. They might also change mental status, turn depression worse than before and increase suicidal thoughts.
“The message for parents, teachers, coaches and religious leaders is to not be afraid to talk to a young person when they are concerned,” Simon said. He added that people thinking about committing suicide or worried for another should ask for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s help.
Researchers from San Diego State University noticed that there was a small increase in Google searches involving the word “suicide” after Netflix’s show “13 Reasons Why” debuted, for at least three weeks. But the study didn’t link actual deaths with the series.