The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
Suicides among the youngest U.S. teenagers were rising for years before the pandemic—with school stress, social media, and guns standing as potential factors, according to a new study. Researchers found that between 2008 and 2018, the suicide rate among 13- and 14-year-olds nationwide more than doubled—from roughly two deaths per 100,000 teens in 2008 to five per 100,000 a decade later.
It was a stark reversal of a decline that began in the late-1990s.
And if fact, suicide is now the leading cause of death for 13- and 14-year-olds in the United States, said senior researcher Dr. Sarah Wood, a professor of pediatrics at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine.
The study published online recently in the Annals of Pediatrics and Child Health comes amid growing concerns about U.S. kids’ mental well-being.
“In my mind, this study is another warning bell,” Wood said. “Things are not improving. They’re getting worse.”
The study found certain other patterns, too. One was related to geography, with suicide rates being higher in rural areas than in big cities, specifically when it came to firearm deaths: There are 2.3 such deaths per 100,000 in rural areas versus 1.6 per 100,000 in large cities.
The researchers also found that young teens’ suicide rates spiked during the school year and dropped off in the summer, suggesting that school stress may be a factor.
Although studies paint a grim picture, Wood also pointed out that teen suicide remains relatively rare. She sees findings like these as a way to raise awareness and “mobilize us.”