Suicide Rate Keeps Rising Among Young Americans

“Having a five- to 10-minute chat or phone conversation in the moment when something is stressful can be just as valuable as spending an hour a month in therapy,” Singer said.

In the new report, the researchers found that the suicide rate for adolescents and young adults more than doubled in New Hampshire between 2007 and 2018. Elsewhere, rate increases included 22% in Maryland; 41% in Illinois; 51% in Colorado, and 79% in Oregon.

In 2016-2018, suicide rates among young people were highest in Alaska, while some of the lowest rates were in the Northeast. Yet even New Jersey, which had the lowest rate in that three-year period, saw a 39% increase, Curtin pointed out.

Dr. Emmy Betz, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, thinks the reasons for the increases in young people’s suicides are complicated and not clearly understood.

“The first thing is just to look out for each other, for our kids, for our communities and ask if we’re worried about someone and say something,” she said. “It can feel awkward, but people are grateful, usually.”

Use available resources, added Betz, who is also a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians. She was not involved with the study.

“The crisis hotline is free and available, and there’s online chat, so there are ways to reach out and get help even if you feel like you don’t want to talk to someone in your life about what you’re going through,” Betz said. “Or if you’re worried about someone and you don’t know what to do, you can always call those resources as well.”

If someone is having an immediate crisis, call 911 for help, she added.

Betz noted that parents should keep the tools of suicide, such as guns and drugs, locked so that young people can’t get to them.

Singer added that what this new report doesn’t reflect is a very large increase in suicidal thoughts among youth this year, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic and a souring economy.

“But it is also important to know that there’s not a direct relationship between an increase in suicidal thoughts and a corresponding increase in suicide deaths,” he said.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Sally Curtin, M.A., National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Jonathan Singer, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., associate professor, School of Social Work, Loyola University Chicago, and president, American Association of Suicidology; Emmy Betz, M.D., spokesperson, American College of Emergency Physicians, associate professor, emergency medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver; CDC report:State Suicide Rates Among Adolescents and Young Adults Aged 10-24: United States, 2000-2018, Sept. 11, 2020

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