“In high school, a friend of mine was bullied, and he unfortunately took his life,” Miron said. “He had such a brilliant future ahead of him, if he just made it two more years through high school.”
Now, “our new information shows that suicide [among] adolescents has reached its highest recorded level, and it shows that there’s especially an increase in recent years in adolescent males,” he said. “The data shows that it is a very real threat.”
Among teens 15 to 19, the suicide rate was 8 per 100,000 people in 2000 and then increased to 11.8 per 100,000 in 2017.
Among young adults 20 to 24, the suicide rate was 12.5 per 100,000 people in 2000 and then rose to 17 per 100,000 in 2017, the data showed.
Overall in 2017, there were 6,241 suicides among young people aged 15 to 24, of whom 5,016 were young men and 1,225 were young women, the researchers found.
The research had some limitations, including that the causes of death in the data were based on death certificates, which can be subject to error, or it could suggest that the observed increase in suicide deaths may reflect more accurate reporting in certificates.
The research also did not examine factors behind the increase in suicide rates. “Future studies should examine possible contributing factors and attempt to develop prevention measures by understanding the causes for the decrease in suicides found in the late 1990s,” the researchers wrote.
Identifying why there has been an increase remains a topic of interest among experts, she added, but it appears to be multifactorial.
Some reasons, Kaslow said, could be that family and community structures may not be as tight-knit as in the past, leading to increased risk, or that the increased use of technology has led to young people spending less time on cultivating rich, in-person relationships and more time being exposed to possible cyberbullying.
“I don’t think it’s the using of technology that’s the problem, but I think it can be how that affects your relationships and the cyberbullying issue,” she said. “There’s growing evidence now that cyberbullying is associated with depression, with self-harm and suicidal thoughts and even death by suicide.”
To get help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.