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Suicide rates are going up, especially among young women

suicide rates

(CDC)

This is a disturbing chart: it shows suicide rates among teenage and young adult women in America increasing steadily since the mid-2000s. In particular, the rate of suicide by suffocation for females between 10 and 24 years of age has more than tripled since 1994, new federal data shows.

Young women still have a much lower suicide rate than young men. Centers for Disease Control statistics show that young women have a suicide rate of 1.7 per 100,000, while for men in the same age group, that number stands at 4.5. But the rise in suicides among women has been much sharper recently, particularly with suffocation cases (the line with triangles in the chart above).

"During 1994–2012, age-adjusted suffocation suicide rates continued to increase among females aged 10–24 years and also increased significantly, although less sharply, among males in this age group," researchers write. "These rates have increased across all racial/ethnic groups and U.S. Census regions."

The researchers don't offer an explanation for why this increase is happening — only that it's especially concerning to see a rise in suffocation cases, given that it's one of the deadliest suicide methods.

"These trends are concerning because suffocation as a suicide mechanism has a high lethality rate, typically 69 percent to 84 percent," researchers write. "By comparison, lethality rates for firearms and poisoning in 2010 were 81 percent and 2 percent, respectively."

(Hat tip to Aaron Carroll at the Incidental Economist, who spotted this chart and has written previously on the challenge of adolescent suicide and what Denmark has done to address the issue)

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the degree to which suicide has increased among young women. Suicide by suffocation has tripled, but the overall suicide rate has not.