The suicide rate among girls ages 15 to 19 reached a 40-year high in 2015, increasing from 2.9 per 100,000 population in 1975 to 5.1 per 100,000 in 2015, according to data published Friday in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
For the report, CDC researchers looked at data on teen suicide rates from the National Vital Statistics System, which provides demographic, geographic, and cause-of-death information.
Data show increase in suicide rates among older teens
Overall, CDC estimated 5,900 individuals ages 10 to 24 died by suicide in 2015. However, Tom Simon, one of the report's co-authors and the associate director for science at CDC's Division of Violence Protection, said the data showed "substantial increases in suicide rates for both young males and young females" between 2007 and 2015.
For instance, the data showed the suicide rate for boys ages 15 to 19 increased from 12 per 100,000 population in 1975 to 14.2 per 100,000 by 2015. But, according to the data, those increases did not occur steadily. The suicide rate among older teen boys in 2015 was lower than it was during the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, when the suicide rate among that age group peaked, according to the data. The data showed that suicide rates among boys ages 15 to 19 increased from a rate of 12 per 100,000 in 1975 to 18.1 per 100,000 in 1990, decreased to 10.8 per 100,000 in 2007, and then rose by 31 percent by 2015.
The data showed that suicide rates among girls ages 15 to 19 were lower than those among boys in the same age group from 1975 to 2015. However, the data showed that suicide rates among girls ages 15 to 19 followed a similar pattern seen in older teenage boys of increases from 1975 to 1990 and decreases from 1990 to 2007. For instance, suicide rates among girls ages 15 to 19 increased from a rate of 2.9 per 100,000 in 1975 to 3.7 per 100,000 in 1990, decreased to 2.4 per 100,000 in 2007, and then more than doubled by 2015.
Carl Tishler, an adjunct associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Ohio State University, said the rise in suicide rates among teens ages 15 to 19 could be attributed to a number of factors. For instance, Tishler said, "Some of the opiate or heroin overdoses in adolescents may be interpreted by emergency departments as suicides."
Dorian Lamis, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine/Grady Health System who was not involved in the report, said social media and cyberbullying could be contributing to the rise in the suicide rate among teenage girls. Lamis said, "Some research has suggested that the timing of puberty in girls is a contributing factor for the increased suicide rate," because the physical and psychosocial changes girls experience might make them "vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders earlier on in life."
Simon said, "The message for parents, teachers, coaches, and religious leaders is to not be afraid to talk to a young person when they are concerned" (Scutti, CNN, 8/3; Magness, McClatchy/Miami Herald, 8/4; Lewis, TIME, 8/4).
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