If you’re raising a daughter, here’s a statistic you need to know: In the past 15 years, suicide rates have tripled among young girls between ages 10 and 14.
In Washington state, two kids kill themselves every week on average, and 17 others try. Experts don’t know why the troubling trend is happening, but some say an earlier onset of puberty, a lack of resources, and societal expectations may all be factors.
“There’s a lot of worry about increased social pressure on young girls,” said Joan Luby, M.D., child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
It’s estimated that by the time teens reach 10th grade 20 percent have seriously considered suicide. That prompted Governor Jay Inslee to have the state Department of Health create a suicide prevention plan.
It’s important to remember that four out of five teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs. Watch out for changes in behavior, feelings of hopelessness, depression, a preoccupation with death, or talking about suicide. If you think your child is at risk, take it seriously. You need to get them help right away.
“Make sure the adolescent knows they can talk to you if they have a concern without fear of reprisals or punishment,” Luby told Ivanhoe.
Just knowing you care can influence a child’s outlook. Ask questions and talk about suicide. Don’t avoid the question and ask “Are you thinking about suicide?”
It could save your teen’s life.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255