NEWS Mental Health News Teenage Girls Are Considering Suicide At Alarming Rates. How Can This Change? By Sarah Fielding Sarah Fielding LinkedIn Twitter Sarah Fielding is a freelance writer covering a range of topics with a focus on mental health and women's issues. Learn about our editorial process Updated on April 12, 2023 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Zerah Isaacs Fact checked by Zerah Isaacs Zerah Isaacs is a biomedical research associate with experience in both academia and industry. While attending SUNY Albany Zerah investigated the behavioral mechanisms of PTSD. Zerah is currently a research associate at a biotechnology company providing client-based technical assistance on various research projects. Learn about our editorial process Share Tweet Email Print Pixelfit / Getty Images Key Takeaways Between 2011 and 2021, the rate of teenage girls considering attempting suicide increased from 19% to 30%.Factors such as isolation, social media, and lack of access to mental health care all may have contributed.Structural and individual changes are necessary to lower the rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. It reports on the health and actions of high school students in the United States between 2011 and 2021. One of the critical areas investigated was suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as well as factors that could cause them, such as poor mental health, violence, and unstable housing. One of the most notable and troubling results to come out of the survey was the severe increase in teenage girls with suicidal ideation. Researchers found that 30% of adolescent girls surveyed had seriously considered attempting suicide within the last year—up from 19% in 2011. The same was true for 45% of LGBQ+ individuals and 14% of boys. The rate of girls who went one step further and made a suicide plan also increased over the decade, from 15% to 24%. The rate of high school girls who attempted suicide rose from 10% to 13%. Alyse Ruriani, MA, ATR, LPC Teen girls have been through a mass-disabling and life-altering pandemic, and experience sexual violence, objectification of their bodies, homophobia, racism, misogyny, weight stigma, gun violence, climate anxiety, and so many more things... — Alyse Ruriani, MA, ATR, LPC It could be simple to blame the COVID-19 pandemic for the increase, as the latest results were taken one year after it began. According to Dr. Courtney Conley, EdD, NCC, a licensed counselor with her own practice, “The pandemic limited the opportunity that young girls had to form a healthy sense of self. They didn’t have access to peers, school sports, activities, and all those other in-person interactions. They leaned even more towards media, social media, and other fabricated sources to form their identity.” However, in each area discussed, the numbers had increased prior to the pandemic, demonstrating it is not the only factor to blame here. So, why are teenage girls considering suicide at increased rates, and—importantly—what can be done to reduce it? Pandemic Significantly Affected Mental Health of Teen Girls, Study Shows Factors Increasing Rates of Suicidal Ideation In Teenage Girls Being a teenage girl has never been an easy hand to manage. But, those growing up in the United States are living through an incredibly tumultuous time that they are inheriting and having to navigate. “Teen girls have been through a mass-disabling and life-altering pandemic, and experience sexual violence, objectification of their bodies, homophobia, racism, misogyny, weight stigma, gun violence, climate anxiety, and so many more things that are present in the world today—and they are experiencing it without fully developed brains and perhaps without effective skills or supports needed to get through those moments,” says Alyse Ruriani, MA, ATR, a licensed professional counselor and author of The Big Feelings Survival Guide. A lot of this is also amplified by social media, which is linked to poor mental health and can facilitate cyberbullying. Teenage girls also have the same challenging factors that have long plagued them and hurt their mental health. According to Dr. Rashmi Parmar, an adult and child psychiatrist at Mindpath Health, these negative factors can include: Difficult relationships with friends or familyPeers suggesting self-harmGrief Academic and social pressuresNegative home environmentsPoor access to mental health care “It is important to note that every child is unique and may have one or a combination of the above factors contributing to suicidal thoughts and need further help or intervention,” says Parmar. One point of note is the shift to a reduced stigma in openly discussing mental health. While the above factors are undoubtedly relevant, it could be hypothesized that teen girls are more likely to share their mental health experiences honestly than they were a decade ago. Rashmi Parmar, MD I continue to encounter the social stigma attached to mental health and suicide, which prohibits teenage girls from speaking about these issues freely. — Rashmi Parmar, MD According to Parmar, the greater conversation around mental health “has definitely made it easier for teenage girls to be more open about discussing their inner challenges and feelings with others.” Overall, her teenage clients express feeling more comfortable conversing about this subject with friends, parents, and other trusted adults. Adults are also beginning to treat teenager’s mental health as a more serious ordeal, adds Conley. However, the stigma is far from eradicated. “I continue to encounter the social stigma attached to mental health and suicide, which prohibits teenage girls from speaking about these issues freely. Some communities and cultures may have added stigma attached to recognizing mental health problems or seeking help for it,” says Parmar. “So, even though we may have made some progress in encouraging younger individuals to seek help, there is still a lot of work needed in this area to ensure they get the help they need on a timely basis.” Teen Brains Are Less Equipped to Resist COVID-Related Depression and Anxiety What Steps Can Decrease Teenage Suicidal Ideation? There is no one size fits all solution to improving the mental health of teenage girls, but there are evident structural changes needed in society to move in the right direction. A clear one: better access to mental health education, therapy, and care. As Parmar says, “resources like school counseling, online support groups, and outpatient psychiatric care should be easily available to teenage girls struggling with mental illness.” Part of the journey to accomplish this requires the continual erasure of stigma about mental health conditions. It’s critical that people of all ages feel safe discussing mental health. It also necessitates “addressing disparities in social and economic areas and providing equal opportunities to teenage girls struggling in these areas will eventually lead to better outcomes,” says Parmar. Effective and accessible education and care must extend to all people, not just the most privileged communities. Parmar further emphasizes the importance of limiting social media exposure, understanding and building healthy relationships, and training surrounding adults to recognize symptoms of poor mental health. Each change, individual and societal, can help create a world in which suicidal ideation in teenage girls goes vastly down. What This Means For You If you or a person you know is considering suicide, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or The National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine (1-800-950-NAMI (6264)). Parents Think Teens Won't Admit Mental Health Struggles, Poll Shows 3 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Survey. 2023. Yoon Y, Eisenstadt M, Lereya ST, Deighton J. Gender difference in the change of adolescents’ mental health and subjective wellbeing trajectories. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2022. doi:10.1007/s00787-022-01961-4 van Wezel MMC, Abrahamse EL, Vanden Abeele MMP. Does a 7-day restriction on the use of social media improve cognitive functioning and emotional well-being? Results from a randomized controlled trial. Addictive Behaviors Reports. 2021;1(4):100-365. doi:10.1016/j.abrep.2021.100365 See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.