Suicide on the Rise in Girls


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — For nearly 20 years, suicide rates have been increasing in the U.S. In fact, it’s one of the leading causes of death in this country. Now a new report shows more young girls are at risk for ending their own lives.

If you’re raising a daughter, here’s a statistic you need to know: in the past 15 years, suicide rates have tripled among young girls between ages ten and 14. Experts don’t know why the troubling trend is happening, but some say an earlier onset of puberty, a lack of resources, and societal expectations may all be factors.

“There’s a lot of worry about increased social pressure on young girls,” said Joan Luby, MD, child and ddolescent psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Four out of five teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs. Watch out for: changes in behavior, feelings of hopelessness, depression, a preoccupation with death, or talking about suicide. If you think your child is at risk, take it seriously. You need to get them help right away.

Dr. Luby told Ivanhoe, “Make sure the adolescent knows they can talk to you if they have a concern without fear of reprisals or punishment.”

It could save your teen’s life.

This CDC report showed suicide rates are increasing among every age group under 75, but the largest increase was in young girls.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

REPORT #2410

BACKGROUND: Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, suicide rates were steadily decreasing. But in the past twenty years, they have been increasing and are still increasing in teenage girls. While depression and anxiety occur in both genders, when kids reach mid-adolescence, girls are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder. Girls mature more quickly than boys and may have increased sensitivity emotionally. Like adults, signs of depression in teens include the typical loss of interest, withdrawal, and sadness. But some parents may see these signs in their child and write it off as them just acting like a teenager. If there is a change in mood, academic performance, eating habits, sleep patterns, or irritability, these signs should be taken seriously. Usually there is not depression without anxiety, and with the societal pressures girls face today it seems impossible for teens to not feel anxious. Social media presents “perfect” lives of others, so when teenage girls compare themselves to a fantasy they see every day online, they will never feel adequate.


THE STUDY: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 10-24. For high school aged students, 17% said they had considered suicide in the past year and 8% made one or more suicide attempt. For girls aged 10-14, the suicide rate has increased 200% between 1999 and 2014. Early puberty may be a factor in this increase. Girls can begin puberty at eight years old, and when girls start breast development early they are more likely to experience depression. For children aged 8-18, the average time spent on social media a day is over seven and a half hours and the children with the heaviest social media use reported more sadness and boredom. Cyberbullying is prevalent on most social media platforms and teenage girls are 21% more likely to be cyberbullied. Children who are cyberbullied are two times more likely to attempt suicide than those who are not.


WARNING SIGNS/HOW TO HELP: Knowing how to recognize depression in your teen and how to help them could be the difference between their life and death. Some more signs and symptoms are difficulty concentrating, frequent crying, restlessness, agitation, aches and pains, and expressing their thoughts of suicide by making jokes about it or romanticizing it. If any of these signs are noticed, it is better to take action sooner than later. If you’re not sure if your teen is actually in trouble or is just having a little teen angst, pay attention to the timeline of their behavior and if their depression has been going on for a while. Ways to help include taking time to listen instead of lecturing, be gentle yet persistent, combat isolation by encouraging them to see friends, and make sure they are getting exercise and enjoying a healthy diet.


* For More Information, Contact:

Judy Martin

Director, Public Relations

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis


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