Suicide Kills More Middle Schoolers Than Crashes

From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 4, 2016 -- Middle school students in the United States are now just as or more likely to die from suicide as from traffic crashes, a federal government study says.

In 2014, there were 425 suicide deaths among children ages 10-14 nationwide, while 384 children in that age group died in traffic crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The New York Times reported.

In 1999, the death rate for children ages 10-14 from traffic crashes was about 4.5 deaths per 100,000, quadruple the rate for suicide. By 2014, the death rate from traffic crashes had been cut in half, while the suicide rate had nearly doubled to 2.1 per 100,000, with most of the increase occurring since 2007.

In 2014, far more boys (275) committed suicide than girls (150), but the number of girls who kill themselves has tripled, compared with a rise of about a third for boys, The Timesreported.

"It's clear to me that the question of suicidal thoughts and behavior in this age group has certainly come up far more frequently in the last decade than it had in the previous decade," Dr. Marsha Levy-Warren, a clinical psychologist in New York who works with adolescents, said.

"Cultural norms have changed tremendously from 20 years ago," she told The Times.

A number of factors can contribute to suicide in youngsters, but social media is a significant one due its wide public reach.

"If something gets said that's hurtful or humiliating, it's not just the kid who said it who knows, it's the entire school or class," Levy-Warren told The Times. "In the past, if you made a misstep, it was a limited number of people who would know about it."