Suicide rates on the rise over past decade

The suicide rate for kids is significantly higher today than it was a decade ago, according to a new report from Trust for America’s health.
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 5:36 PM CDT
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GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WBAY) - Suicide rates are increasing across the country, as seen in a new report. Reminder: the national suicide and crisis hot line is now just three numbers: 9-8-8.

The suicide rate for kids is significantly higher today than it was a decade ago, according to a new report from Trust for America’s health.

“All teens are at greater risk for suicide,” said Rhea Faberman, the Trust for America’s Health Director of Communications.

The report shows 25 percent of the deaths of people aged 10-to-17-years-old are due to suicide, making it the second leading cause of death for this age group as of 2021.

“We really have to invest in prevention programs to turn these numbers around,” said Farberman.

In 2011, the suicide rate for youth was around 14%, meaning the rate increased by 71% in a decade, and the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the sole reason why.

“Increasing for over two decades tells us that it’s not just about the pandemic and, um, that the end of the pandemic won’t solve the problem either,” said Farberman.

Locally, 9-1-1 calls for mental health related issues have also increased in recent years.

“When we look back over 5-years of data we have a 32% increase in those types of calls, and they account for about 10% of our total call volume are mental health crises,” said Nick Romenesko, Gold Cross Ambulance Operations Director.

The nonprofit organization Prevent Suicide Fox Cities says the group most at risk is working men aged 24-42, but they have also received an increase in calls for help from young people.

“Those younger populations you definitely see a lot more emotional investment of the paramedics and first responders that they’re really rooting for that person to have a positive outcome because they are so young and have so much life to live ahead of them,” said Romenesko.

There isn’t a simple explanation for why more kids are dying by suicide but some experts believe factors include increased mental health issues, lingering effects of the pandemic, higher school performance expectations, fear of school shootings and especially social media use.

“There’s a great risk for harm as well. Harm in terms of self-image, bullying, depression,” said Faberman.

Leaders with Prevent Suicide Fox Cities say the most important way to try to prevent suicide is to watch people’s behavior and how it changes, especially regarding increased alcohol and drug use and signs of lasting depression.

“What we need to do next, however, is make sure that everyone who needs mental health care has access to mental health care, because that’s not true today,” said Faberman.

9-8-8 is the Suicide and Crisis National Lifeline, but in an emergency where a life is in danger, you should still call 9-1-1.