Suicide rates among teenagers and young adults rising

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Suicide rates among teenagers and young adults are increasing in the United States. A recent report from the CDC revealed that suicide rates among teenagers and young adults increased by 8% from 2003 to 2004. Interestingly, the increase coincided with a 22% decline in the use of SSRIs after a mandate to adhere warning labels that indicated a “risk of suicidal ideation.” Groups that were identified as having the largest increase in suicide were boys 15 to 19, girls 10 to 14, and girls 15 to 19. There were no discernible differences in suicide rates among differing ethnic groups; researchers suggest that this may be due to limitations of the sample. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage today that discusses the findings in detail:

ATLANTA, Sept. 6 — Suicide rates among adolescents and young adults in the United States increased by 8% from 2003 to 2004, the largest increase in 15 years, CDC investigators reported today.

“In surveillance-speak this is a dramatic and huge increase,” said Ileana Arias, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in a press briefing.

The increase followed a decline in combined suicide rates for 10- to 24-year-olds of 28.5% from 1990 through 2003, reported Keri M. Lubell, Ph.D., and CDC colleagues in the Sept. 7 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

All of the increase in the latest figures can be accounted for by a spike in suicides among three groups: girls 10 to 14, girls 15 to 19, and boys 15 to 19.

For young girls, there was a shift away from suicide by firearms or poisoning toward hanging or suffocation.

The rise in suicide rates coincides with a 22% decline in pediatric prescriptions for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) after the implementation of black box warnings about the risk of suicidality and suicidal ideation, which was reported in the September issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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