The steady seven-year rise in middle school suicides, from an annual rate of 0.9 to 2.1 per 100,000, came as traffic deaths among the same age group declined to 1.9 per 100,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
In aggregate numbers, 425 young people 10 to 14 years of age took their own lives in 2014, compared with 384 who perished in automobile accidents that year, according to the CDC.
"Any rise [in youth suicides] should be of concern, there's no doubt," Mark Kaplan, a professor of social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a phone interview, commenting on the findings.
The underlying causes of suicide are highly complex, making it difficult to explain the trends documented by the CDC, he added.
Mortality rates from traffic collisions among all age groups have decreased over several decades in the United States, which observers attribute in part to improved safety features in cars, such as airbags.
Where to get help
Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat (online chat counselling) - visit www.kidshelpphone.ca
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre
If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs:
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Substance abuse.
- Feeling trapped.
- Hopelessness and helplessness.
- Mood changes.