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More girls are thinking about suicide - here's why and how to help

A teenage girl hugging her knees talking to a therapist.
In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. Why is suicide increasing for girls?
2. What are the warning signs of suicide for teenage girls?
3. What can parents and caregivers do to prevent suicide?

Nearly one in three teenage girls has considered suicide. About one of seven has been forced to have sex. More than half say they are so hopelessly sad they have stopped regular activities. That’s double the rate of boys, and the highest level reported in the last decade.

“A crisis in girlhood,” is how experts describe the findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Many teenage girls feel intense online scrutiny and pressure from their peers about their appearance, performance in school and social activities. Deep feelings of loneliness and sadness are the result, said Katherine Murphy, CEO of National Alliance for Mental Illness of Palm Beach County.

“There is lots of bullying. They don’t know where to go for help. They feel desperate, hopeless, stuck,” she said. 

The drumbeat of social media is the cause of many of the issues faced by teenage girls, said Allison Jimenez, director of programs for Hanley Foundation. 

“Teenage girls have no down time, even when they go home. If they are bullied in-person at school, they get bullied online at home,” said Jimenez. 

Covid’s aftermath has left many teenage girls with feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety and isolation, said Anne-Marie Brown, director of Trauma Services at the Center for Child Counseling in Palm Beach Gardens.

Returning to school was tough. So is going back and forth to the daily routine of life after being indoors during the long months of isolation during the pandemic. 

Parents have divorced. Family members have died. Drug abuse has increased. So has physical and sexual abuse. Many parents are working more.

“There’s a real fear of what’s out there among teenage girls,” Brown said.

The risks of social media use to young people were described in May 2023 by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy. The public advisory lists 10 recommendations for educators, policymakers, tech companies and parents.


Don't wait for your teenage daughter to come to you. Ask what's wrong if she seems sad, anxious, depressed or struggling. Listen and offer your support. Talk to your daughter right away if you suspect she is considering suicide. Don't be afraid to use the word "suicide." Ask how she is feeling. Listen. Never disregard threats of suicide as teenage angst or drama. Encourage your teenage daughter to spend time with friends and family members who are supportive.

Encourage a healthy lifestyle. Help your teen eat well, exercise and get regular sleep. Join them for a walk, bicycle ride or a swim at the beach.

If you think your daughter may be suicidal or is considering self-harm, counseling is an excellent first step, said Murphy. If a teenage girl does not feel comfortable talking about her problems with a parent, she should ask a coach, teacher or pastor. In-person and online counseling is available.

“Teenage girls can feel hopeless, stuck, desperate. Counseling helps them see solutions. Counseling provides options and shows them positive coping skills,” Murphy said. 

At what point do you take your child to the hospital? What if they refuse to go? If they have attempted suicide, do you consider residential care in a facility, where children live for weeks or months at a time?

Local programs that can help: 
  • The Zero Suicide Initiative is a program at the Hanley Foundation that helps people recognize the signs that a person is contemplating suicide. 
  • The Center for Child Counseling in Palm Beach Gardens offers SNAP (Stop Now and Plan) Program to help parents. The center also offers individual and family counseling. 
  • Palm Beach County National Alliance on Mental Illness has support groups for young adults and families.
  • In an emergency, call 211 in Palm Beach County for suicide prevention or crisis intervention or call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Kathleen Murphy, chief executive officer, National Alliance Mental Illness Palm Beach County
Allison Jimenez, director of programs for Hanley Foundation, West Palm Beach
Anne-Marie Brown, director of Trauma Services at Center for Child Counseling, Palm Beach Gardens 

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