A recently released report from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows an alarming rise in teen and young adult suicide rates over the past decade. According to the report, teenage suicide rates have increased nearly 56 percent over the ten-year period from 2007 to 2017. Over the same period, the suicide rate for U.S. adults aged 20-24 increased 36 percent.
It is not that surprising that suicide rates among teens and young adults are rising. According to data from the American Psychiatric Association (APA), suicide rates across the board have risen 33 percent from 1999 to 2017. What is alarming is that teenage suicides specifically has far outpaced the increase in suicides in general. They are also disproportionately affecting people of color and those in the LGBTQ community.
While certain factors, such as a history of mental illness or substance use, are known to raise the risk of teenagers committing suicide, the reasons for the current increase have mental health experts stumped. Some have pointed to the rise of social media use, which has been linked to higher rates of depression and low self-esteem. Others believe that increased academic and social demands are fueling the rise.
Without knowing what is causing more teens and young adults to attempt suicide, it is difficult to know what to do in terms of providing early intervention. Previous research has shown that suicide screening at emergency rooms and pediatricians’ offices can help to prevent suicide. Positive stories of people overcoming the urge to end their lives have also shown some benefits.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line (https://www.crisistextline.org/), a free, 24/7 confidential text messaging service that provides support to people in crisis when they text 741741.