Stunning increases in U.S. suicide rates for all ages gripped headlines today as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on the subject.
Overlooked in many stories: While the numbers of suicides for children remain low compared to other populations, girls aged 10-14 had the highest growth in suicide rates of any group between 1999 and 2014, the most recent year reported in federal data. In that time, the rate of suicides for girls in that age group tripled, growing from 0.5 per 100,000 people to 1.5 per 100,000 people.
For boys ages 10-14, the rate climbed from 1.9 per 100,000 people to 2.6 per 100,000 people during that time period. Among girls and women ages 15-24, the rate grew from 3 to 4.6 per 100,000 people, and among boys and men in that age group, it grew from 16.8 to 18.2 per 100,000 people, the data show.
Those numbers fit into an overall increase in suicide rates for all age groups. From 1999 through 2014, the age-adjusted suicide rate increased 24 percent, from 10.5 to 13 per 100,000 people, with the pace of increase greater after 2006, the CDC reports.
“We don’t know why. We would like to know why,” Jane Pearson, chair of the Suicide Research Consortium at National Institute of Mental Health, told ABC News. “Knowing it’s going up, we are concerned, but we are not surprised because we have seen this trend happening.”
While some youth suicide figures remain low compared to other groups, they are still troubling to educators and child well-being advocates. Of particular concern is a suspected contagion effect when students in a tight-knit school community process the death of a peer.
Suicide prevention organizations say they have taken a new approach with schools in recent years, working to help teachers identify warning signs of suicide and mental health issues at earlier ages.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Further reading on suicide and schools:
- Suicide Rates Climb Dramatically for Young Black Children, Study Finds
- Educators Often Overlook Student Grief, Experts Say
- Schools, Leaders Respond to Teen Suicide Cluster on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
- Robin Williams’ Death: What We Shouldn’t Say When We Discuss Suicide
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.