Between 2007 and 2017, the suicide rate among young people ages 10 to 24 increased a staggering 56% according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2017 alone, there were a total of 6,241 suicides in people ages 15 to 24: 5,016 young men and 1,225 young women.
But these numbers are more than just statistics; they are thousands of futures lost and hearts broken.
And could be the loudest cry for help that we all need to hear.
“Many children out there are suffering,” says Dr. Peggy Scallon, medical director of Rogers Behavioral Health’s residential Depression Recovery treatment for adolescents. “These numbers not only shed light on how many children are unfortunately acting on suicidal thoughts, but they also represent a great risk to all of our kids.”
According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 10 and 24—more than homicide, more than overdoses, more than cancer.
“If we think about these numbers,” says Dr. Scallon, “the automatic thing that comes to mind is ‘why?’”
Why are teen suicide rates rising?
While more research is needed to explain the alarming trend, there are a few things we do know. Underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance use, bullying, and trauma all play a role. Dr. Scallon explains the medical community is even beginning to draw a link between social media use, screen time, lack of sleep and the risk of suicide.
How to help prevent teen suicide
Knowing the warning signs is one way everyone can help reverse the rising rate of suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides a comprehensive list of warning signs including an increased use of drugs or alcohol, withdrawing from activities and isolating from friends and family, giving away prized possessions, and even talking about killing oneself.
“There’s an old misnomer that people who are talking about suicide are not the ones who are going to do it…that’s just not true,” says Dr. Martin Franklin, clinical director of Rogers’ Philadelphia clinic.
Hear more insights into teen suicide in this sit-down interview with Dr. Franklin.
If you or someone you love are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
For more information about mental health treatment at Rogers, call 800-767-4411 or request a free, confidential screening online.