Alarming rates of suicide among children and teenagers

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A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows alarming rates of suicide among teenagers between the ages of 10 to 18 years old. According to the study there was a steady decline in suicide rates among this age group between 1996 and 2003. However, in 2004 the suicide rate for 10 to 19 year olds jumped up by 18%. In 2005, the latest year information is available related to national suicide statistics, the rate dropped to 4.49 per 100,000 compared to 4.74 per 100,000 in 2004; however, this is still well above the 95% confidence limit projected from the previous trend (95% CI 3.47 to 4.15). Researchers commented about the sharp increase in suicide saying, “Attention must now be directed toward understanding whether this increase in the youth suicide rate after a decade-long decline reflects an emerging public health crisis.”

This data is alarming and will hopefully spur a movement in research which tries to explain factors contributing to the sharp increase in 2004. One of the possible contributing factors that the researchers mentioned was the influence of social networking websites. This should be a reminder to parents of the diversity of information and media that is available via the internet and promote supervision of online activities. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study’s findings:

The researchers analyzed deaths coded as suicide in the National Vital Statistics System, which includes age and gender.

Because the data were relatively scant, the researchers were unable to say with authority why rates may have increased so much, so quickly.

Dr. Bridge and colleagues found the general pattern was reproduced for youths 10 to 17 years old and in those 18 and 19 years old, and in boys as well as girls.

In 2004, girls showed a much bigger jump in suicides from the previous year than did boys. From about 1.6 per 100,000 in 2003, the suicide rate among girls increased to 2.2 per 100,000 in 2004.

In the same year, suicide rates among boys rose from about 6.7 to 7.1 per 100,000.

In 2005, rates for boys and girls fell by 1.8% and 16.7% from the previous year, respectively.

Both rates in 2005 remained above the confidence limits (95% CI 5.63 to 6.66 for boys, 1.11 to 1.62 for girls) of predictions based on the trends from 1996 to 2003, Dr. Bridge and colleagues said.

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today

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