More U.S. Teen Girls Are Attempting Suicide By Poisoning, Researchers Alarm

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A new study published Wednesday revealed that the rate of suicide attempts by poisoning among the American adolescents has more than doubled in the past ten years and more than tripled among the U.S. girls and young women.

The researchers from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio used data from the National Poison Data system to conclude that more than 1.6 million cases of 10-to-24-year-olds tried to kill themselves by poisoning from 2000 to 2018. More than 70 percent of the suicide attempts by poisoning were in female adolescents. 

A closer look into the results shows that between 2000 and 2010, the rates of suicide attempts through poisoning were relatively stable. However, since 2011, the numbers drastically increased. 

For instance, 17 percent of the girls aged 10 to 12 tried to poison themselves between 2000 and 2010.  Between 2011 and 2018, their number went up by 336 percent, the scientists estimated. The teenage girls between 13 to 15, the rate increased 136 percent for the same period, and for their counterparts aged 16 to 18, the number rose by 75 percent.

The current research did not mention in details the types of poisons used, but it briefly described them as anything from gummy vitamins to a high dose of opioids. 

Henry Spiller, the primary author of the study and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center, alarmed that the amount of suicide attempts requiring severe medical interventions has also increased dramatically during this period.

The new research echoes the outcome of a national study released earlier in April which examined the emergency room records to find out that suicidal thoughts and attempts almost doubled from 2005 to 2017. In addition to that, the medical records showed that 40 percent of the hospital visits related to suicide attempts were for children aged 5 to 12 for this period.

Dr. Gene Beresin, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the studies, commented that one of the reasons for the rise of suicidal attempts among children is the constant pressure on them to achieve more in school. Dr. Beresin also said that cyber-bullying is also among the leading causes of suicidal behavior.

Both studies also concluded that parents are often unaware of the issues behind the suicide attempts of their children. Therefore, researchers recommended better communication at home. 

John Ackerman, the suicide prevention coordinator at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, commented that families sometimes do not help kids overcome their emotional pain. Furthermore, the researchers also advised parents to store potentially dangerous medications away from the reach of children. 

Do you think that schools and families nowadays make enough efforts to prevent suicidal thoughts among young children?