In 2017, a total of 6,241 teens and young adults in the United States died of suicide, the highest number of suicide deaths since 2000.

A recent study found that the rate of suicide among 15- to 24-year-olds has been soaring in recent years.

"The data shows that it is a very real threat," stated Oren Miron, a research associate at Harvard Medical School and the first author of the paper published in JAMA.

Suicide Among Young People On The Rise

Miron and team used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's data on deaths among individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 across the United States from 2000 to 2017.

The study revealed that in the age group of 15 to 19, the suicide rate increased from eight per 100,000 people in 2000 to 11.8 per 100,000 people in 2017. Among the 20- to 24-year-olds, the suicide rate went from 12.5 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 17 per 100,000 people in 2017.

The data also showed that of the more than 6,000 suicides in 2017, 5,017 were young men while 1,225 were young women. The suicide rate among young women has steadily been rising for several years, but the suicide rate among young men experienced a significant spike in 2014.

Factors Causing The Increase In Suicide Rate

The researchers suggested that the increase in the suicides is an effect of the ongoing opioid crisis. However, social media could also be contributing to the alarming trend.

"There have been a number of things that people have talked about lately," added Nadine Kaslow, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Emory University School of Medicine. She was not involved in the study. "One is just sort of increasing rates of psychological pain or psychological distress in young people — more anxiety and more depression — and I think that's for a number of reasons."

The reduced stigma for parents to report a child's death as suicide might also be responsible for the rising rate.

The researchers, however, noted that the study has limitations. The data used, for example, were based on death certificates and, therefore, were subject to error.

The researchers wrote that further studies could identify the factors that contribute to the increase in the suicide rate among young people. This could lead to the development and adoption of measures that can prevent individuals from taking their own lives by understanding that led to the decrease of suicides in the late 90s.

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