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Suicide rates spike in adolescent girls, women

Posted April 26

Suicide is on the rise in America, and two groups in particular show a troubling spike: adolescent girls and middle-aged whites. Overall, suicide rates are the highest they've been in three decades. (Deseret Photo)

Suicide is on the rise in America, and two groups in particular show a significant spike: middle-aged whites and adolescent girls.

The number of girls ages 10 through 14 who killed themselves tripled between 1999 and 2014, a 200 percent increase, according to data released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Among white women ages 45 to 64, the suicide rate climbed 80 percent, part of a trend that shows increased mortality for middle-age whites, particularly those who live in rural areas and have limited education.

But rates are up for all groups except for the elderly, and suicide is among the top 10 leading causes of death for Americans. More people die from suicide than homicide, according to The Washington Post, which said economic pressures, drug addiction and divorce may all factor into the increase.

Suicide rates fell from the mid-1980s until about 2000, when they began to grow at a rate of 1 percent. The rate climbed to 2 percent and has held steady since 2006, Dan Keating and Lenny Bernstein reported.

The Post said foreclosures and unemployment caused by the Great Recession likely contributed to the increase.

“Things aren’t panning out the way people expect. I feel for sure that has had an effect," Rutgers University professor Julie A. Phillips told the Post.

But the Internet also enables suicide by offering advice and equipment like so-called "exit sacks," Keating and Bernstein noted. Federal research shows that suffocation, including hangings, rose by 89 percent, and now accounts for one in four suicides.

For men who killed themselves in 2014, firearms were the most common method; among women, poisoning was.

More men died from suicide, although more women attempted it, the CDC said.

"The Internet can be a double-edged sword. Prevention materials can be widely disseminated, but also you can just Google ‘suicide.’ It’s just very different how much information we have at our fingertips," statistician Sally Curtin, the lead author of the study, told the Post.

While few media reports suggested that a decline in religious belief may contribute to people's sense of hopelessness, at least one Muslim scholar made the connection. Speaking to Breitbart Jerusalem, Dr. Abdullah Maqat suggested Islam is the solution to "the emptiness that is endemic to the American and Western societies."

"It’s not surprising that once your moral and religious foundations are fraught, and decadence and moral abandon become a norm, the individual breaks up. The moral collapse leads to social problems like alcohol and drug abuse, as well as many other immoral and obscene habits, and from there the road to suicide is very short," Maqat said.

Previous research has indicated that countries with religious populations tend to have lower suicide rates.

EMAIL: jgraham@deseretnews.com

TWITTER: @grahamtoday

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