Steady Rise in U.S. Suicides Among Adolescents

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

U.S. rates of suicide by all methods rose steadily for adolescents between 1999 and 2020, a new analysis shows.

During those two decades, over 47,000 Americans between the ages 10 and 19 lost their lives to suicide, the report found, and there have been sharp increases year by year.

Girls and minority adolescents have charted especially steep increases in suicides, said a team led by Cameron Ormiston, of the U.S. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

“An overall increasing trend was observed across all demographics,” the researchers wrote in a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The findings were based on federal death certificate data from 1999 through 2020.

while deaths from drug (or other substance) overdose rose by 2.7% per year between 1999 and 2020 among all adolescents, it rose by 4.5% per year among girls, specifically.

That trend has only accelerated in recent years: Between 2011 and 2020, suicides by overdose jumped 12.6% per year among female adolescents, Ormiston’s group reported.

All of this suggests that “adolescents are finding more lethal means of poisonings, contributing to an increase in deaths by suicide,” they said.

And while suicides using guns rose 5.3% per year during 1999 to 2020 among boys, it increased even more rapidly (7.8% per year) among girls.

Although older teen boys have traditionally had higher suicide rates than girls, “recent evidence suggests these gaps may be closing as suicide rates are increasing more rapidly among female adolescents than male adolescents,” the researchers said.

What’s driving the rise in these tragedies?

Dr. Robert Dicker is associate director of child and adolescent psychiatry for Northwell Health’s Zucker Hillside Hospital and Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Great Neck, N.Y. Reviewing the findings, he said that, “Sadly, I could say that the results were not surprising.”

As to factors driving the trends, Dicker said one obvious culprit is the pressures put on kids by social media.

“As social media became a primary area of teenage communication, that is when there was an increase in mood disorders, depression, and suicide,” he noted.

The study data only extended to 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic.

Dicker believes things may have only gotten worse in the years since.

“I think the rates of anxiety and depression in youth have increased over these years,” he said. “Suicide attempts have increased in this adolescent population. Visits to emergency departments have increased within this population. So, I can’t say for sure, but I think if this study was extended, I think we would see even further worsening.”

Source: HealthDay

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top

[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)