BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — There has been a significant spike in the number of attempted suicides by teenage girls in the United States.
According to a study by the CDC, there was a 51-percent increase of emergency room visits for teenage girls ages 12 to 17. That was for February and March of this year compared to the same time frame in 2019.
“Unfortunately, it's not surprising — as terrible as that sounds,” stated Krysta Broeker, suicide prevention project coordinator, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
Broeker said it's heartbreaking to see these higher rates of teenage girls visiting the emergency room for attempting suicide, but pandemic isolation is a major cause.
“Do you have any indication as to why this would be happening?” Buckley asked.
“Teenagers and teen age girls in particular, if you don't have access to some way to express your feelings and get all those emotion — it can feel very overwhelming,” described Broeker. “We tend to forget that teenagers and children — humans in general are social creatures, but especially teenagers and young adolescents — they rely on that interactions with their peers. They are missing a big chunk of what makes them feel seen and loved and taken care of.”
“It is alarming — it really is and I think it speaks to the need for more comprehensive intervention at the school level, the community as well as family,” responded Dr. Keith Klostermamn, mental health expert, therapist at Wheatfield Pediatrics & Walden University.
“Have you actually patients in that age group that perhaps made an attempt?” Buckley questioned.
“Yes, I’ve seen anecdotally — I’ve seen a lot of kids, especially females, that have come in that have been really depressed. Depression is often a risk factor for suicidal behavior,” replied Klostermann. “And also, kids that were contemplating suicide.”
Klostermann says the pandemic has forced children to lose important connection to teachers, school counselors, friends and other supports.
“Those supports were stripped away from them and kids were sort of left to pick up the pieces and try to figure out — well how do I make sense of this,” remarked Klostermann. “It creates this sort of perfect storm for a lot of kids emotional and social development.”
Klostermann said some teens might have suffered from being with family too much because some don't have ideal home situations.
At the same time, having families together may have prevented death by suicide.
“Usually, people will attempt or think about suicide when they feel like they've run out of options and they don't know what else to do so I think asking the question is always really important,” Klostermann.
Both experts say situations that are trivial to adults can be traumatizing for children, which is why it’s so important for everyone to know that help is always available.
“Consult with other people — professionals. If you suspect that your daughter or son is suffering, seek out help, whether it is through the school — doctors office — help is available,” noted Klostermann.
“It’s easy for adults to say you're just a kid and get over it, but in the moment — it's traumatizing for the teens — especially as they are growing and changing and experiencing all of the wonders of puberty and hormones -- emotions and different experiences can feel just so unbearable,” Broeker explained.
Experts say to watch for potential signs:
- Verbal clues
- Behavioral clues
- Situation clues
Important Phone Numbers if you or someone you know may be considering suicide, the following resources are available 24/7:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Services (local) 716-834-3131
- Trans Lifeline 1-877-565-8860
- Trans Lifeline Canada 1-877-330-6366