Girls And Suicide: Oh No!
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 6, 2015
“From 2007-2013, the rate for young females went from 2.2 to 3.4 per 100,000. That’s the highest since the 3.1 rate recorded in 1981, when such tracking began.”
These girls and young women, 10-24, are increasing their rate of suicide in the US. What to make of this pit in the stomach feeling of sadness and grief for these developing females and their families? No one knows, so we are left to speculation. They are choosing more lethal means, such that before they may have had an “unsuccessful” attempt, but now they are finishing the job, so to speak. I do not have any glib explanation, except to say that psychic pain is invisible until it is so visible that we squirm when we see it. Does this correspond to my chronic complaining about simplistic interventions for mental health care? Maybe, except that before there were simplistic interventions, there were more people getting no care, returning us to the question of whether bad care is better than no care? There is still a gender gap for suicide, but does this statistic represent a perverse desire for females to close that gap, to show that they can be as violent towards themselves as boys can be? I hope not. Is this a result of social media where there is a vulnerability for developing women to feel that are missing out, based on the images they see on their networking sites? What is the shock associated with these suicides? I wonder if there were any warning signs? As a child psychiatrist, I cannot help but feel that we are failing these girls and women. This data is a call to action. The question is what action? Screening tools? Should we be empowering teachers to do mental health triage to identify children and adolescents at high risk? Are these foster children, such that more attention needs to be given to this population, a population we know is overmedicated, and is high risk for social ills? Psychiatrists should not stay silent, both to help these kids and to stay relevant. Suicide reminds us about why we do, what we do. We help people with psychic, and hence invisible pain. At the same time, we need to be visible to promote this work.