The rate of suicide at young age has dramatically increased in the period of 2007-2017 at the age range of 10 to 19 years old. This statistics provided by CDC should worry us a lot and we should determine the real reason to such alarming numbers.
In percentage the CDC reported an increase of 76% and an intervention must come at first place meanwhile rigorously searching for the reasons.
In 2017, the suicide was the second biggest cause of death in youth, but the age limit has gone drastically low starting from 10-14, 15-19 and up to 20-24.
The data from CDC reveal the following increase:
A 56% increase in suicide in the age range of 10-24 years old.
A high 76% increase in the age range of 15-19 years old, and in the period of 2014-2017 the rate of the increase rose to 10%, previously it had been 3%.
6,252 young people committed suicides in 2017, in the age range of 15-24 years old. As comparison in that range there have been 4,905 homicides.
517 suicides in children from 10 to 14 years old.
The Youth Risk Behavioral report by the CDC revealed other important data in terms of suicide:
2% of teenagers in the age range of 14-18 years old have seriously considered suicide
4% of them attempted suicide at least once
4% of the attempted suicides ended up with injuries
5% of young people feel extremely sad and hopeless at least two days a week
6% of them made a serious plan to commit suicide
Potential Reasons for High Suicide Rates
It is very difficult to exactly determine the cause of suicide, however a large percentage of the experts believe that it could be related to the following factors:
Removing the stigma of suicide
There cannot be given clear distinction in case of opioids whether it was an intentional suicide or simply a drug overuse. What is a real fact is that the opioid epidemic primarily affects young people between their twenties and thirties and most of them are young parents.
Dr. Daniel Nelson, a psychiatrist at Cincinnati Children’s hospital analyzed the records of a 3-month period involving 300 children who committed suicide in 2016. He noticed that while looking at a map of the overdose, the suicidal attempts were occurring in the same areas. He reported this to Washington Post as a pattern of suicidal behavior always happening in same areas.
In addition to this, Dr. Nelson maintains that from all of his hospitalized patients, 25% of them were adults who have been fighting addiction. Their children then become a part of the foster care system or their grandparents took the care of them after the death of their parents.
What really amazes is the increase of suicide of 5% after one person tries to commit a suicide as if this one act gives strength to others to try it. The attempt of the classmates to process and recover from the suicidal attempt of their classmate, or simply being in a classroom with plenty of children who have parents fighting addictions, is very difficult and creates anxiety and depression in all of the children. The amount of pain and sadness is overwhelming in such surroundings that the children cannot process it properly.
Social media and Technology
The influence of social media can be either positive or negative. It can reduce the stigma of anxiety, depression, and mental illnesses, but it offers an unrealistic perception of life.
In the past two or three friends will compete about who has the newest or the coolest car, but nowadays the competition is spread to thousands sharing likes and thus determining the teenager’s popularity.
The posted pictures are not the true reality of the posted person; all those fancy clothes or parties are only one segment of person’s life. But, due to the fact that there is almost none physical gathering the whole picture cannot be perceived offering the illusion that this person is leading much better life than yours. There is also the drama of social media streaming suicides online and until the official medium catches it and removes it, a large number of people will see it. However, children and teenagers do not possess emotional and mental skills to cope with the scenes they have witnessed. The dark side is rapidly and easily presented and they cannot handle all those crazy, unfamiliar, and harsh things on screen.
It has been reported by many countries in the world that with the increase in technology use, involving more time spent on screens of tablets, phones, computers, and the frequent use of social media, have contributed to higher suicidal behavior. There are still no studies that can show the increase, but by using social media and internet, children and young adults have the whole world in front of their feet including both the bad and good things which can affect their mental health.
All that displayed information should come with some responsibility, but that not is the case in the online communication that can be anonymous. As we mentioned there is a good side to this as in that way you can talk to someone about an issue that you wish to remain private about. The bad side is that people can always say to you cruel and harsh things and that make you even more vulnerable.
You can check online various ways how to kill yourself, or you can opt for the info from all the available suicidal prevention groups, therapy groups, or use the call line. The choice is left to the person who checks all those things online.
Yet, the fact remains, social media reveals an unreal picture of the people that surround you. Making them perfect, which they are not, or you may be even fed up of your acting of having a perfect life on social media, may lead to anxiety and depression. There is also the harassment by strangers or classmates which you need to filter out and thus try to protect yourself.
Bullying was never a good thing but it remained in the schoolyard, and it was not set viral. Nowadays, we have cyber bullying commonly presented via social media. Cyber bulling is defined as an act of intimidation, threatening or derogatory and negative messages through the use of an electronic device.
According to a report written by Professor Ann John of Swansea University in collaboration with the University of Oxford and Birmingham, the statistics and patterns related to cyber bullying are alarming.
The experts looked upon 150,000 children and young adults over a period of 20 years in 30 countries. The results of the analysis were published in JMIR Publications, and they were devastating. Namely, young adults (in their twenties) and children are at double the risk of suicide if they have been previously cyber bullied. Plus, the bully is more likely to have suicidal thoughts than the one who is being bullied. This has been proven to be true if the bully is male, and although he displays bullying behavior, he is more prone to depression and suicidal behavior.
The frequency of cyber bullying changes according to the country and general location, nonetheless, cyber bullying has been experienced by 15 to 35% of the young population, and 10 to 20% of people have admitted that they have bullied others via an electronic device.
Removing the stigma of suicide
The stigma of suicide thanks to the social media and the internet in terms of its relation to mental illnesses has been removed. But, there is still no clear distinction of whether the new numbers of suicides are due to an actual increase in the incidences versus how many of the new numbers are due to new reporting.
The public opinion is that all the bad things that have happened to you should be let out of the closet like rape, domestic violence, incest, drug use, divorce, and so on. But, if it is not properly channeled, processed and guided by a professional help it can actually lead to higher numbers of suicides.
The released report of CDC should really worry us and because of that we should focus more on our children. Most people believe that the current generation enjoys all the perks and conveniences of technology that a wealthy country can offer, but that should not stop us from truly hearing their thoughts and issues. For instance, their issue for us may not be a problematic one, but have in mind that our children are overwhelmed with unprocessed information, images, news, and online bullying. In addition to this, they may be facing some family issues, and because of that we should be at alert when our children are concerned. We should closely monitor their behavior and how their world is affecting them. This awareness can prevent teenage suicide.