After accidental deaths, suicide is the second leading cause of death in those between the ages of 10 and 19 years. Historically, suicide rates have been higher for male than for female youth; however, recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that this pattern is changing.
After a downward trend in suicide rates through 2007, suicide among female youth showed the greatest increase. The suicide rate for youth aged 10–14 declined from 200 (1.5 per 100,000 persons) to 2007 (0.9), and then nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017 (2.5).
Among girls aged 10 to 14 years, the rate increased about 13% per year; in contrast, among boys in the same age group, the rate increased 7% per year. Among youth aged 15 to 19 years, rates increased about 8% per year among girls and 3.5% among boys.
Why are suicide rates on the rise in young girls? That’s the central question, but we do not yet have answers. Some speculate that increased use of social media in this age group may be responsible; however, most believe that there are probably multiple factors at play, including barriers to accessing mental health care and exposure to epidemics of suicide publicized by the media.
Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD
Ruch DA, Sheftall AH, Schlagbaum P, Rausch J, Campo JV, Bridge JA. Trends in Suicide Among Youth Aged 10 to 19 Years in the United States, 1975 to 2016. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 May 3;2(5).
Death Rates Due to Suicide and Homicide Among Persons Aged 10–24: United States, 2000–2017 (CDC report)
Suicide Rates Triples Among Young Girls, According to CDC (Medscape – free subscription)
Suicide Rate For Girls Has Been Rising Faster Than For Boys, Study Finds (NPR)