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Suicide attempt, self-mutilation: an unprecedented progression among adolescents, with a peak around age 15

  • May 16, 2024
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This is a chilling observation. In a report published on May 16, 2024, relating to hospitalization linked to suicide attempts and self-mutilation, the Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (Drees) warns of a “strong increase in hospitalization rates for self-inflicted acts among patients aged 10 to 24, with a peak around the age of 15”.

A self-inflicted gesture can take different formsas Dress reminds us: a suicide attempt but also non-suicidal self-mutilation such as scarification, burning, beating against a wall, etc.

THE adolescent girls and young women are particularly affected. “Nearly 85,000 people were hospitalized at least once in connection with a self-inflicted act in 2022, 64% of them are women,” note the authors. These results are a continuation of previous studies on the mental health of young people in France. For example, last April, Santé Publique France warned about a “clear deterioration” in mental health in middle and high school, especially among girls.

Hospitalizations for self-inflicted acts: an unprecedented increase among adolescents and young women in 2021 and 2022. Read in the new DREES study. 👉https://t.co/7kVlKjrT1b pic.twitter.com/5BVC8XpAcm

— DREES – Santé Solidarités statistics (@DREESanteSocial) May 16, 2024

Suicide attempt, self-mutilation: adolescent girls and young women particularly affected, according to the report

This survey, which brings together data for the period from 2021 to 2022, compared the figures with the period spanning from 2015 to 2019. It notes, a “degradation of the Mental Health adolescent girls and young women”. Indeed, “the hospitalization rate for self-inflicted acts is progressing in a brutal and unprecedented manner in this population”, can we read in the report. More precisely, comparing with the period 2010-2019, the report notes an increase of 71% in the hospitalization rate in medicine and surgery departments for girls aged 10 to 14, and of 44% for adolescents aged 15 to 19. years and 21% among young women aged 20 to 24.

The authors also note that the psychiatric hospitalization rate “is even more important”. For 10-14 year olds, still over the period of 2021-2022 compared to 2010-2019, the report notes an increase in “+246% for 10-14 year olds, +163% for 15-19 year olds and +106% for 20-24 year olds.” Regarding psychiatry, “the rate of hospitalizations for self-inflicted acts of female patients aged 10 to 19 doubles between 2012 and 2020 then doubles again between 2020 and 2022”, adds the report.

An increase “widespread in the territory”, notes the Drees report

This increase is “generalized across the territory”but certain departments are more marked. “Departmental hospitalization rates are also higher in Hauts-de-France and Brittany than in the Paris region and in the overseas departments and territories (overseas department and region, editor’s note), detail the authors in the report.

According to them, in patients hospitalized due to self-inflicted acts, “residents of disadvantaged municipalities and beneficiaries of complementary solidarity health insurance are over-represented”. According to the report, the main mode of operation of the self-inflicted act is voluntary drug intoxication which represents two thirds of cases, followed by injuries from sharp objects.

Researchers note that this phenomenon is not visible in boys and adults over 30 years old. “The absence of comparable changes in boys and men of the same ages suggests that it is a gendered phenomenon, but it remains possible that a possible increase in male psychological distress is not expressed in the same way”.

Sources :

  • Hospitalizations for self-inflicted acts: an unprecedented increase among adolescent girls and young women in 2021 and 2022 – Department of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (Drees) (Press release).
author avatar
Louis Tardy