The rates of self-inflicted injuries rose from 245 to 434 per 100,000 girls between 2001 and 2015
The data don't differentiate between suicidal and non-suicidal intent
Emergency room visits for non-fatal, self-inflicted injuries surged in recent years among US girls and young women, especially those between the ages of 10 and 14, according to a new study.
However, rates of self-harm among boys and young men between the ages of 10 and 24 remained stable throughout the years 2001 through 2015, the researchers said.
“Suicide is preventable,” said Melissa C. Mercado, lead author of the study published Tuesday in JAMA and a behavioral scientist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “These findings underscore the need for the implementation of evidence-based, comprehensive suicide- and self-harm-prevention strategies.”
Suicidal vs. non-suicidal injuries
Young people have higher rates of nonfatal self-inflicted injuries, according to Mercado. She and her co-authors looked at first-time nonfatal injury visits among people 10 to 24 years old at 66 hospital emergency rooms from 2001 through 2015.
“The data used for this study did not allow for the distinction between suicidal and non-suicidal intent of the self-inflicted injuries,” Mercado wrote in an email.
A total of 43,138 ER visits for self-inflicted injury were reported at those hospitals during the study period for kids, teens and young adults, the researchers found, and they used mathematical adjustments to estimate national rates.
The study does not include firearm injuries, hangings, “recreational” overdoses, jumping from heights or car accidents.
Despite gaps, the study still indicates that “we certainly have a more troubled population,” said Carl Tishler, an adjunct associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University.
Overall, the annual rate of self-inflicted injuries among both males and females ages 10 through 24 increased from 201.6 per 100,000 to 303.7 between 2001 and 2015.
But among males, self-inflicted injury rates remained stable, the researchers found.
Females alone contributed to the upward trend. The annual rate of self-inflicted injuries among females 10 through 24 rose from 245.5 per 100,000 in 2001 to 434 per 100,000 in 2015, an increase of 8.4% each year.
Poisoning – such as an overdose of medication – was the most common method of injury for girls, though self-inflicted injuries with a sharp object increased during the study period.