Suicides in teens and young adults reached 6,241 in 2017, the highest since 2000, according to data from a review of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Underlying Cause of Death database.
The suicide rate overall was 12 per 100,000 in 2017 for 15-19 year olds.
Although suicide rates have increased across all age groups in the United States since 2000, “adolescents are of particular concern, with increases in social media use, anxiety, depression, and self-inflicted injuries,” wrote Oren Miron of Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues.
In a research letter published in JAMA, the researchers analyzed trends in teen and young adult suicides from 2000 to 2017. The combined suicide rate for males and females aged 15-19 years in 2000 was 8 per 100,000 with no significant changes until 2007, followed by an annual percentage change (APC) of 3% from 2007 to 2014 and 10% from 2014 to 2017.
When the data were broken out by gender,Of note, these young men showed a decreasing trend in APC of –2% from 2000 to 2007 before increasing.
Among females aged 15-19 years, no increase was noted until 2010, then researchers identified an APC of 8% from 2010 to 2017.
For ages 20-24 years, the combined suicide rate for males and females was 13 per 100,000 in 2000, which rose to 17 per 100,000 in 2017. The APC in the older group was 1% from 2000 to 2013 and 6% from 2013 to 2017. Increasing trends were observed for both males and females over the study period.
The study was limited by the potential inaccuracy in cause of death listed on death certificates, such as mistaking a suicide for an accidental overdose, and the increased suicide rate could reflect more accurate reporting, the researchers noted.
Nonetheless, the results support the need for more studies of contributing factors to teen and young adult suicides to help develop prevention strategies and analysis of factors that may have contributed to declines in suicide rates in the past, they said.
Coauthor Dr. Yu was supported by the Harvard Data Science Fellowship. The researchers had no relevant financial disclosures.
SOURCE: Miron O et al. JAMA. 2019 Jun 28;321:2362-4.