The Percentage of Suicidal Teens and Kids Has Doubled Since 2008

By
13 Reasons Why. Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix

Netflix’s new show 13 Reasons Why tackles the subject of teen suicide in a manner that’s raised concern among professionals and parents alike, but what about how teens are faring in real life?

A new study shows that there has been an “alarming” increase of suicidal thoughts and attempts in children and teens between the ages of 5 and 17 since research began in 2008. Researchers examined the teens and kids admitted to 32 hospitals around the country, and found that the percentage of those admitted for “suicidality and serious self-harm” has doubled since 2008.

Sixty percent of those admitted in 2008 were girls, whereas by 2015, they made up sixty-six percent. The CDC reports that the rates for girls between the ages of 10 and 14 tripled by 2015, although this new study doesn’t break down stats by age.

According to CNN:

“Increasing suicide rates among children mirror adult numbers … Children’s numbers more than doubled over the study period, increasing from 0.67% of children admitted to hospitals in 2008 to 1.79% in 2015. Annually, the 15-to-17 age group averaged an increase of 0.27%, the 12-to-14 age group averaged 0.25%, and the 5 to-11 age group averaged 0.02%.”

Dr. Gregory Plemmons, an associate professor of pediatrics who will present the study Sunday at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, pointed out another interesting detail. “When we looked at the number of kids awaiting placement or admitted at one time, month by month, there is a huge difference in the months. Certainly, the month of the year that is the lowest for suicidal thoughts and ideation is July. And we see those numbers creep back up right when school starts.” A 2012 study revealed that the rate of suicides — presumably in adults — increases in spring for reasons that baffle scientists.

While researchers aren’t quite sure why the rates are increasing for kids and teens, Plemmons explained that the many reasons could include a “[f]amily history of depression or suicide, family violence, child abuse, gay and lesbian youth, history of bullying — those are all risk factors that have been reported. We didn’t look at any of those specific factors in our study.” Researchers think that cyberbullying may be a part of the problem.

Percentage of Suicidal Teens and Kids Has Doubled Since 2008