Big spike in suicide rate among US girls

MIAMI • The suicide rate in the United States has jumped 24 per cent in the past 15 years, including a troubling spike among girls aged from 10 to 14 years, according to new US government statistics.

The rate increased by about 1 per cent a year from 1999 and then accelerated to 2 per cent annually from 2006 to 2014, according to the findings by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's National Centre for Health Statistics.

The rise was seen among both males and females and for all ages from 10 to 74, said the report.

The biggest jump was among girls aged from 10 to 14, whose suicide rate tripled from 0.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 1.5 per 100,000 in 2014. A total of 150 girls in this age group killed themselves in 2014, a 200 per cent increase over 1999.

"We are seeing younger and younger kids dying by suicide," said Mr Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York.

This is "really a worry", he said. "I think it may be a reflection of access to social media, Internet and cyber bullying, and youth are hurried. They are being exposed to things sooner than they would have been."

Suicide rates among boys aged from 10 to 14 were higher than among girls, but they did not experience the same spike over the 15-year period. In 1999, 1.9 per 100,000 boys in this age group committed suicide, and by 2014 the number had risen to 2.6 per 100,000, a 37 per cent increase.

Among men, those over 75 were most likely to kill themselves in both 1999 and 2014. Among women, suicide rates were highest for those aged from 45 to 64, in both 1999 and 2014.

Men remain more than three times as likely as women to commit suicide.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Big spike in suicide rate among US girls'. Print Edition | Subscribe