The suicide rate among Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 is up 57 percent between 2007 and 2018, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2018, suicide was the second leading cause of death for the age group, as well as for those between 15 and 34 years old.
Between 2016 and 2018, the suicide rate among Americans under 25 dropped slightly, by 47 percent, according to new statistics published Friday.
But they could easily start crawling again, especially as the number of young people with signs of mental illness and anxiety is on the rise amid the stress and isolation of the coronavirus pandemic.
Suicide rates remained at around seven per 100,000 people between the ages of 10 and 24 from 2000 to 2007, and have risen 57 percent since then, data from the CDC shows.
Suicides among 10- to 24-year-olds have increased by 57% in the last decade. Rates are highest in rural states such as Alaska, New Mexico, and Montana (purple)
In 2018, nearly 600 people between the ages of 10 and 24 died from suicide.
The rate has steadily increased over the past ten years.
In 2007, only seven in 100,000 people in the age group took their own lives.
In 2018, the percentage had risen to 11 in 100,000, despite wide-ranging campaigns to raise awareness and a decline between 2016 and 2018.
Suicide is considered a “death of despair” – in addition to that caused by alcohol and drugs – a category of fatalities that has consistently hit particularly hard the rural and sparsely populated parts of the US.
Among 10- to 24-year-olds, suicide rates were highest in Alaska, where 31.4 of the 100,000 young people took their own lives.
Other states that topped the list included Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Suicide rates were lowest in the wealthy, densely populated states of the Northeast, but have still risen significantly over the past decade.
In New York, there were 44 percent more youth suicides in 2018 than in 2007, the data showed.
Suicides increased more sharply in Massachusetts, where the rate increased by 64 percent.
While the overall suicide rate was lower than in places like Alaska, the strongest increase was seen in New Hampshire, where suicides among 10 to 24 year olds have doubled since 2006.
Suicides have increased most dramatically in New Hampshire (bottom), but have increased in all US states since 2007
Full data on suicide rates during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic will likely not be available for years, as the most recent numbers recorded by the CDC are from 2018.
But experts say the US has reason to be concerned.
Signs of depression among Americans have tripled since the start of the pandemic, according to research published by Boston University earlier this month.
Those who develop major depression are at a much higher risk of suicide, and more than 18 percent of Americans could go in that direction.
Isolation is both a key to slowing the spread of the coronavirus and a major risk factor for suicide.
Since the start of the pandemic, K-12 schools and colleges have been closed, sending children and young adults home where they lack the social contact that promotes both development and mental health.
With schools reopening in the US (although some colleges have switched back to distance learning after the COVID-19 outbreaks), some health officials are concerned about an increase in coronavirus cases.
But the CDC has said the educational and mental health benefits of having children in school outweigh the risk of COVID-19, which is typically mild in children.
And if young people don’t attend school, the mental health consequences could drive suicide rates even further, experts warn.
“ There are many reasons to suspect that suicide rates will rise this year as well, not just because of Covid-19, but because stress and anxiety seem to permeate every aspect of our lives, ” said Shannon Monnat, co-director of Syracuse University’s Policy, said Place and Population Health Lab Bloomberg.
Fear is high in the population as a whole, thanks to political and social unrest. Children are not immune to those stressors. ‘
- For confidential assistance, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here
- For confidential support on suicide issues in the UK, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritan branch or click here
- For confidential support in Australia, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or click here