US Youth Suicides Trend Upward After Recent Decline

September 2, 2008

Suicide trends among 10- to 19-year-olds in the United States declined from 1996 to 2002, but from 2003 to 2004 they spiked 18 percent and continued to rise in 2004 to 2005, according to a research letter published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Suicide trends among 10- to 19-year-olds in the United States declined from 1996 to 2002, but from 2003 to 2004 they spiked 18 percent and continued to rise in 2004 to 2005, according to a research letter published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jeffrey A. Bridge, Ph.D., of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues examined the latest available national fatal injury data from the National Vital Statistics Systems, and extracted information on the number of suicides by year, age and sex.

Based on the 1996 to 2003 trend, the overall youth suicide rate was significantly higher in both 2004 and 2005, although the rate between the two years fell by 5.3 percent. There were an excess 326 deaths in 2004 and 292 in 2005, compared with the 1996 to 2003 trend. The rates were the same for both males and females.

"Studies to identify causal agents are important next steps. These studies should involve comprehensive assessment of individual-level exposure and outcome data, as aggregate data alone cannot establish causal links," the authors write. "Possible factors to consider include changes in the prevalence of known risk factors (e.g., alcohol use, access to firearms), the influence of Internet social networks, higher rates of untreated depression in the wake of recent boxed warnings on antidepressants and increases in suicide among U.S. troops, some being older adolescents."

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