American Girls' Suicide Rates Jump, Health Health Agency Says

Thursday, September 6th 2007, 11:16 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ The suicide rate among preteen and teenage girls rose to its highest level in a decade, and hanging surpassed guns as the preferred method, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests a surprising reversal in recent trends.

The biggest jump _ about 76 percent _ was in the suicide rate for girls ages 10-14 from 2003 to 2004. There were 94 suicides in that age group in 2004, compared to 56 in 2003. That's a rate of fewer than one per 100,000 population.

Suicide rates among all American young people, ages 10 to 24, fell 28 percent from 1990-2003. But in 2004 it shot back up, driven largely by increases among females aged 10-19 and males aged 15-19.

Overall, suicide was the third leading cause of death among young Americans in 2004, accounting for 4,599 deaths.

The study also documented a change in suicide method. In 1990, guns accounted for more than half of all suicides among young females. By 2004, though, death by hanging and suffocation became the most common suicide method. It accounted for about 71 percent of all suicides in girls aged 10-14, 49 percent among those aged 15-19 and 34 percent between 20-24.

The CDC is advising health officials to consider focusing suicide-prevention programs on girls ages 10-19 and boys between 15-19 to reverse the trends. It also said the suicide methods suggest that prevention measures focused solely on restricting access to pills, weapons or other lethal means may have more limited success.