Suicides Are Increasing Among Young Females (10-24)

This week’s MMWR from the CDC addresses suicide trends among persons aged 10-24 years from 1994-2012. The study’s findings include:

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds in the US

• There were 5,178 suicides in this age group in 2012

• The three most common methods are firearm, suffocation (including hanging), and poisoning (including drug overdose)

• Consistent with prior research, and with reports of suicide in older age groups, the rate of suffocation suicides in this age group is increasing

• This is concerning given the high lethality rate – typically 69% – 84%

• During 1994-2012, suicide rates by suffocation increased on average by 6.7% annually for females and 2.2% annually for males

• Suicide by males in this age group were consistently higher than females

• For males:

•  1994 rate = 15.7 per 100,000

•  2012 rate = 11.9 per 100,000

•  2012 ranking of methods, in order of frequency:

•  Firearm

•  Suffocation

•  Poisoning

• For females:

•  1994 rate = 2.7 per 100,000

•  2012 rate = 3.2 per 100,000

• 2012 ranking of methods, in order of frequency:

•  Suffocation

•  Firearm

•  Poisoning

The authors referenced the CDC’s High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2013, which is replete with statistics showing female high school students have greater suicide concerns than males. From the 13,583 responses, during the prior 12 months:

•  Those reporting feeling so sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities:

•  39.1% females vs. 20.8% males

•  Those reporting seriously considering attempting suicide:

•  22.4% females vs. 11.6% males

•  Those reporting having made a plan about how they would commit suicide:

•  16.9% females vs. 10.3% males

•  Those reporting an attempted suicide:

•  10.6% females vs. 5.4% males

•  Those reporting an attempted suicide resulting in an injury, poison, or overdose that had to be treated by a doctor or nurse:

•  3.6% females vs. 1.8% males

For more information:

CDC’s MMWR, 3/6/15:

CDC’s High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey,

Donna Vanderpool, MBA, JD – Vice President
As Vice President of Risk Management, Ms. Vanderpool is responsible for the development and implementation of PRMS’s risk management services for The Psychiatrists’ Program. Ms. Vanderpool has developed expertise in the areas of HIPAA and forensic practice, and has consulted, written and spoken nationally on these and other healthcare law and risk management topics. She most recently wrote a chapter concerning the risks of harm to forensic experts for Robert L. Sadoff, MD’s book Ethical Issues in Forensic Psychiatry: Minimizing Harm, (Feb. 2011/Wiley). Ms. Vanderpool received her undergraduate degree from James Madison University, and her MBA and JD from George Mason University. Prior to joining PRMS in 2000, Ms. Vanderpool practiced criminal defense law, taught business and legal courses as an adjunct faculty member at a community college and spent eight years managing a general surgical practice in Virginia.

This blog has also been cross-posted on LinkedIn.