HealthDay News — Doctors and parents should be aware of the increased use of hanging as a means of teen suicide and take preventive measures, U.S. health officials say.
Among 10- to 24-year-olds, suicide rates by hanging increased, on average, 6.7% for females and 2.2% for males between 1994 and 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in the March 6 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“Those who work with young people should be aware of trends in suffocation [hanging] suicides so they can accurately assess risk and educate families about the importance of reducing access to highly lethal methods where possible, not leaving those at risk alone, and seeking help,” the CDC said in a news release.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds in the United States.
Because copycat behavior is common among vulnerable teens, the CDC said the media inadvertently contributes to “suicide contagion.” At least 50 studies worldwide have shown that prominent or sensational coverage of suicides increases the odds that people already at risk will take their own lives, the news release explained.
“Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death,” according to established guidelines for reporting on suicide.
Sullivan EM, et al. Suicide Trends Among Persons Aged 10–24 Years — United States, 1994–2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015; 64(08):201-205.