Big increase in suicide by teen girls

Angela Pownall
Big increase in suicide by teenage girls

Suicide among teenage girls in WA has increased 130 per cent in the past decade, an analysis of suicide rates has revealed.

WA mental health organisation Youth Focus said though men were still at greater risk of suicide, the ratio was changing and more attention was needed to stop young women ending their lives.

Youth Focus clinical services manager Chris Harris said they were seeing young women using more aggressive and violent means to kill themselves.

Mr Harris said suicide prevention strategies had targeted men in recent years and the suicide rate among young men had therefore stayed "reasonably static".

Youth Focus' analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistic data shows 3.6 per 100,000 females aged 15 to 19 killed themselves in WA in 2003. This had jumped to 8.3 in 2012. There was also a 65 per cent increase in the suicide rate for women aged 20 to 24 in WA from 2003 to 2012.

Mr Harris said the soaring use of social media, and the cyber-bullying that came with it, could be behind the shift in suicide from men to women.

"They (young women) may be exposed to information that suggests the more lethal forms of suicidal behaviour," he said.

"And we wonder whether young females are actually impacted more by cyber bullying rather than young males."

In the first half of 2014, 181 people were suspected to have killed themselves in WA, though the coroner is yet to make final determinations into 171 of those deaths.

Last year, 342 people died by suicide, compared with 162 people who died on the State's roads that year. In 2010, 310 people took their own lives in WA and this increased to 319 in 2011.

Mental health minister Helen Morton pointed to the drop of 20 suicides from 2012 to last year and said there had been decreases in Perth, Broome and among Aboriginal people under 25.

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.