More than 1.6 million children and young adults aged 10 to 24 attempted suicide by poisoning between 2000 to 2018
The number of children and young adults who have attempted suicide by poisoning has increased in the United States over the past several years, according to a study from Nationwide childrens hospital in Ohio, published in the Journal of Pediatrics on Wednesday.
There was a significant increase in the rate of attempts between 2011 and 2018 that was driven predominantly by girls and young women. A total of 71% of all cases reported in the study involved girls and women.
While the studys data cannot point to a specific reason behind the increase in self-poisoning, the researchers note that social media and internet use have increased significantly during the same period.
Using data from the national poison data system, which reports information from all 55 poison control centers across the country state-run hotlines researchers found more than 1.6 million children and young adults aged 10 to 24 attempted to kill themselves by poisoning between 2000 to 2018.
Research often shows that women are more likely to attempt suicide than men, though men are more likely to die in their attempt. The method and its lethalness play an important role in the trend. Self-poisoning when a person intentionally overdoses on drugs or purposefully exposes themselves to toxic substances is the most common form of suicide among women of all age groups, and its fatality rate is below 5%, meaning the attempt is most likely to end in a rescue.
Over the past decade, thoughts and attempts of suicide have nearly doubled for children and teens. The Center for Disease Control determined in 2016 that it is the second leading cause of death for teenagers aged 15 to 19.
The outcomes of suicide attempts by poisoning have also worsened, according to study, which is possibly due to the availability of information on methods of self-harm.
Scientists and psychologists are just starting to look at the effect that social media has on the mental health of teens. Though studies have shown that social media can have a negative impact on wellbeing, including higher depression rates among girls, researchers are wary of drawing a direct connection to technology use and rising suicide rates in young adults, since any correlation has not been well-researched.
Its not the sole reason for all these changes, but it does seem to be an attribute, said John Ackerman, one of the studys authors and suicide prevention coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research.
With the rise of social media, teens are having less face-to-face contact with others, Ackerman added.
A big risk factor for suicide is being disconnected and isolated and a person perceiving themselves very negatively or like a burden.
The study adds new insight into suicide attempts, which are not uniformly tracked on a national scale but put people at a high risk for a second attempt.
Ackerman said he hopes the study will encourage parents, educators and doctors to develop specific strategies, such as safe medicine storage, knowing that self-poisoning is common among teenage girls in distress.
Intervention before a person attempts suicide is essential and can take many forms, he added.
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org
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