Study: Self-harm, sui­cide climb among girls in U.S.


CHICAGO — At­tempted sui­cides, drug over­doses, cut­ting and other types of self-in­jury have in­creased sub­stan­tially in U.S. girls, a 15-year study of emer­gency room vis­its found.

It’s un­clear why, but some men­tal health ex­perts think cy­ber­bul­ly­ing, sub­stance abuse and eco­nomic stress from the re­cent re­ces­sion might be con­tribut­ing.

The ris­ing rates “should be of con­cern to par­ents, teach­ers, and pe­di­a­tri­cians. One im­por­tant rea­son to fo­cus on re­duc­ing self-harm is that it is key risk fac­tor for sui­cide,” said Dr. Mark Olf­son, a Columbia Univer­sity psy­chi­a­try pro­fes­sor who was not in­volved in the study.

The sharpest in­crease oc­curred among girls aged 10 to 14, nearly tripling from 2009 to 2015, from about 110 vis­its per 100,000 to al­most 318 per 100,000.

Older teen girls had the high­est rates — 633 vis­its per 100,000 in 2015, but the in­crease af­ter 2008 was less steep.

Drug over­doses and other self-poi­son­ings were the most com­mon method among girls and boys, fol­lowed by in­ten­tional cut­ting with sharp ob­jects. The study doesn’t in­clude in­for­ma­tion on which meth­ods were most com­mon by age nor on how many in­juries were se­vere or re­quired hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.

All the in­juries were in­ten­tional, but not all were sui­cide at­tempts, said lead au­thor Melissa Mer­cado, a be­hav­ioral sci­en­tist.

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