September 13, 2007
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A government report shows the largest single-year rise in suicide rates in 15 years.  Could this be a scary trend? After a decline of more than 28 percent between 1990 and 2003, suicide rates increased between 2003 and 2004 by 8 percent. In Al’s Morning Meeting, Poynter’s Al Tompkins brings up the issue and shows some chilling statistics.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports:

“This is the biggest annual increase that we’ve seen in 15 years. We
don’t yet know if this is a short-lived increase or if it”s the
beginning of a trend,” said Dr. Ileana Arias, director of CDC′s
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Either way, it’s a
harsh reminder that suicide and suicide attempts are affecting too many
youth and young adults. We need to make sure suicide prevention efforts
are continuous and reaching children and young adults.”

The report says the biggest increases are among girls and 15 to 19-year-old boys…:

  • For 10-to-14-year-old females, the rate increased from 0.54 per 100,000 in 2003 to 0.95 per 100,000 in 2004
  • For 15-to-19 year-old females the rate increased from 2.66 to 3.52 per 100,000
  • For 15-to-19 year-old males, the rate increased from 11.61 to 12.65 per 100,000.
Prior to 2003, the rates for all three groups were generally decreasing.

The study also says that kids are using different methods to take their own lives:

The analysis also found that changes had taken place in the methods
used to attempt suicide. In 1990, firearms were the most common method
for both girls and boys. However, in 2004, hanging/suffocation was the
most common method of suicide among girls, accounting for 71.4 percent
of suicides among 10- to-14-year-old girls and 49 percent among
15-to-19 year-old girls. From 2003 to 2004, there was a 119 percent
increase in hanging/suffocation suicides among 10-to -14-year-old
girls. For boys and young men, firearms are still the most common

USA Today offers this summary of the report.

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Kelli Polson is an intern at Poynter and works on Poynter High, the web site for high school journalists to receive story ideas and tips…
Kelli Polson

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