Depression and Suicide Rates Are Rising Sharply in Young Americans, New Report Says. This May Be One Reason Why

Since the late 2000s, the mental health of teens and young adults in the U.S. has declined dramatically. That’s the broad conclusion of a new study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression among kids ages 14 to 17 increased by more than 60%, the study found. The increases were nearly as steep among those ages 12 to 13 (47%) and 18 to 21 (46%), and rates roughly doubled among those ages 20 to 21. In 2017—the latest year for which federal data are available—more than one in eight Americans ages 12 to 25 experienced a major depressive episode, the study found.

The same trends held when the researchers analyzed the data on suicides, attempted suicides and “serious psychological distress”—a term applied to people who score high on a test that measures feelings of sadness, nervousness and hopelessness. Among young people, rates of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts all increased significantly, and in some cases more than doubled, between 2008 and 2017, the study found.

These findings were based on data collected from more than 600,000 people by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual nationwide mental-health survey conducted by a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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