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Child & Teen Health

Why are our girls killing themselves?

August 22, 2016

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photo of Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor

Dr. Monique Tello is a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, director of research and academic affairs for the MGH DGM Healthy Lifestyle Program, clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, and author of the evidence-based lifestyle … See Full Bio
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August 26, 2016

Definitely needs to be discussed. I note social media mentioned but what about simply media? Girls age 10-14 are going through one of the biggest body transitions they will experience, puberty. That combined with the media highlighting the ideal body type and not allowing young girls to embrace their body for what it is. Constantly over-saturated with eat this, not that. Or this work out. Young girls are super high risk for eating disorders. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. And reasons are not purely medical complications of anorexia, but suicide as well.

Depression, yes I believe is a factor, but I believe eating disorders are far more present then people realize and could be a huge source of this spike. Our society does not favor individualism. It does not favor imperfection or encourage people to take about how they feel. I think screenings for eating disorder behaviors not only in the patient but family would be significantly warranted as well as depression screenings in the pediatric population.

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
August 31, 2016

Lindsey, I agree with you. Eating disorders are closely linked with depression and body image issues absolutely need to be considered as contributing to the increased risk of suicides for young women.

August 26, 2016

Looks like Young women / teens have not been taught to value their bodies. Allowing a ‘ boy to ‘ use you ‘ that way is demeaning.. Is that what it takes these days to be popular ? Sad. ! Seems many of today’s youth has no respect for others. How low can morals go .? I thought females were ‘ liberated’ but apparently not . WE must teach Females to have ‘ boundaries’ & respect their bodies. I grew up in the so called ‘ repressed’ 50’s This wide ‘ open’ society ‘ is very harmful to young girls self respect .

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
August 31, 2016

Yes, large shifts in societal norms have had a great effect on the behaviors we see in children nowadays.

Drew Edwards
August 24, 2016

Great insights. There is additional NIH data showing correlation, between voluntary sexual activity, depression, suicidal ideation and death by suicide. The numbers are most robust among younger girls. My God, did you ever believe that we would have a cohort that included 10 year-olds when discussing suicide? I recently worked with a 14-year-old who performed oral sex on a 16-year-old boy, who wouldn’t even sit by her at lunch. After telling her best friends about how embarrassed and shame filled she felt–they casually advised her to “get used to it”. But how does a 14-year-old “get used to this? The truth is–many don’t, and as a result devalue their own worth–and life. Of course, the other well-known factor in depression and suicide is substance abuse. What is lesser known is that over 70% of first sexual experiences for girls are when they are intoxicated. Not exactly how they dreamed their first time would be–and most regret that decision. There is much to understand about depression among young girls. Thank you, for this important contribution to the dialogue.

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
August 24, 2016

Drew, Thanks so much for your comments and observations. I’ve been fretting that we haven’t heard from anyone on this yet. It’s a very difficult subject, but one that needs to be discussed. Appreciate your input!

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