Oct 18, 2019

Why we're failing to stop teen suicide

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Data: CDC; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Parents, teachers and lawmakers are grappling with the worst teen suicide rate in U.S. history, despite a spate of state laws and training programs designed to help.

By the numbers: The number of suicides from people ages 10 to 24 increased 56% fr0m 2007 to 2017, the fastest rate of any age group, a new CDC report shows. Suicides are disproportionately affecting people of color and those in the LGBTQ community.

Teachers in some school districts are scouring Google for mental health advice because they don't know how to help their students, Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project, tells Axios.

Intervention and prevention plans are either mandatory or strongly encouraged in 42 states, but there are still pleas for more inclusive programming.

  • The number of black teens attempting suicide surged 73% since 2007, the CDC notes.
  • Out of the 22 suicide-prevention laws passed in 2019, only Nevada's specifically mentions LGBT youth. This group is 5 times more at risk of suicide than their straight peers, according to the Trevor Project, a crisis and suicide prevention center LGBTQ youth.
  • Suicide is the second-most common cause of death among teenagers and young adults, overtaking homicides and outpaced only by accidents.

The bottom line: “If you had kids suddenly dying at these rates from a new disease or infection, there would be a huge outcry. But most people don’t even know this is happening," Lisa Horowitz, a pediatric psychologist at the National Institute of Health told the Washington Post.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that a separate study found the rise in black teen suicide attempts (not the one by the CDC).

Go deeper

Schools giving students mental-health days

Students at El Sereno Middle School in Los Angeles in 2019. Photo: Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Daily Breeze via Getty Images

Some states and school systems are letting students stay home for mental health reasons in light of rising youth anxiety, depression and suicide rates, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The suicide rate for people ages 10 to 24 increased by 56% between 2007 and 2017, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this month.

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019

Providers, employers link up on suicide prevention

Aïda Amer/Axios

Hospital-based programs are working with employers and community organizations to tackle gun violence and suicide.

What's happening: Companies have pleaded with Congress to pass stronger gun control laws to help stop workplace shootings and suicides. But as bills from the House stall in the Senate, employers are turning to health care providers for help.

Go deeperArrowOct 28, 2019

Self-harm is rising among adolescents

Self-injury among teenagers is on the rise, especially among adolescent girls, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Habitual self harm is an indication of higher suicide risk for some people — and because it's considered a symptom rather than a standalone diagnosis, experts are struggling to respond.

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019